A Democratic congressman threw shade at Super Bowl fans who didn’t stand for the Black National Anthem, calling the specter of fans staying seated “not a pretty picture” for the NFL.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who has represented most of Memphis since 2007, took his shot at fans just as the game was getting underway. For the past several years, major NFL games have begun with renditions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” putting the “Black National Anthem” alongside America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” and provoking outrage from fans across the nation. Grammy-winning artist Andra Day performed the tune Sunday night.
Cohen’s statement provoked several heated exchanges during the game as it drew attention on X. One commentator told the Memphis Democrat that Americans should only stand for the national anthem, to which he replied, “I stand for both. And in Memphis, most do.”
Another said the nation’s anthem “doesn’t see color. Dems have been the front line in dividing this country with race wars.”
“Well, I honor our national anthem and respect it as representing our country and in our pride in it,” Cohen replied. “However if you look at the history and some of the verbiage, it does relate to slavery and not in a questioning manner.”
Antisemitic and bigoted remarks rolled in as well, prompting Rep. Cohen to clap back at trolls late into the night. One user reminded Cohen of his failed attempt to join the Congressional Black Caucus in 2007 after winning his first term in Congress.
Steve, do you remember when you tried to join the Congressional Black Caucus and they wouldn’t stand for you? pic.twitter.com/PqJBDq7Jqa
— Frank DeScushin (@FrankDeScushin) February 12, 2024AdvertisementAdvertisement
“I think they’re real happy I’m not going to join,” Cohen told POLITICO at the time. “It’s their caucus and they do things their way. You don’t force your way in. You need to be invited.”
By Monday morning, Cohen’s original tweet had been “ratioed” with just over 900 reposts and more than 5,000 replies.
The NFL’s decision to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” originated during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests as coaches and players, many following the lead of Colin Kaepernick and demanding the league do more to address “systemic racism” that they said is evidenced by the limited number of Black franchise owners. Taglines like “End Racism” were plastered across end zones and helmets, but by 2023 many of those relics have been removed.
In September, fans drowned out the singing of the Black anthem at the NFL’s opening game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions, leading to a predictable war between commentators calling fans racist and opponents demanding the NFL move on from its years of virtue signaling.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wrote on X that he and his wife were discussing the controversial song as the game began.
“They’re desecrating America’s National Anthem by playing something called the ‘Black National Anthem,’” he wrote.
Other performances of the night included “America the Beautiful” by Post Malone and a halftime show led by Usher. The Chiefs rallied after a slew of early setbacks to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime.