People take a knee during football game


Dr. Croll and some of his students from his sociology class (American Race and Ethnic Relations) take the knee during the national anthem at Augustana’s Homecoming football game. Others involved were independent students and sorority members of Chi Alpha Pi, Delta Chi Theta, and Sigma Kappa Tau. Photo by Maria Do.

During Augustana’s Homecoming football game, about 15 students and one professor took a knee in peaceful protest of racial inequality in America.
Junior Noah-Christina Reed has been taking sociology class on American race and ethnic relations with Dr. Paul Croll. After talking about the inequality that the African-American community faces every day and experiencing it herself, she decided to take a stand.
When Reed knelt in front of the crowd of football fans, she felt overwhelmed and empowered. Even though it was a rainy day, she said she could feel her ancestors smiling down on her for continuing their work.
“Once I realized we have to power and the strength to do this – we have the courage to bring such a dark issue to light, make it known, regardless if people wanted to receive it or not – it just made me feel all the more passionate about our mission,” Reed said.
Those protesting held up homemade signs and Twitter screen grabs that demonstrated their position. One tweet read “If you’re more upset by players taking a knee than Tamir Rice being gunned down by police, you might want to rethink your priorities.”
Before she knelt, she announced to her class she would be kneeling during a football game and said any student was allowed to join her. She also contacted the Office of Multicultural Student Life and the presidents of multicultural groups like Latinx Unidos and Asian Student Organization, but most “brushed it off.” However, Reed did find a lot of support from Greek Life students.
“I think a lot of people in Greek life feel passionate about this cause and want to lend their voice to it even if they’re not directly impacted,” Jackie Kwasigroch, a junior and one of Reed’s Chi Alpha Pi sorority sisters, said.
Kwasigroch is from a small rural farm town in Illinois. For her, kneeling was a personal experience in fighting against social injustice. Once, she witnessed her town’s struggles with racism when members of the community wrote the “n-word” in the snow during a basketball match against a black team. She said that lending her voice to a message that can sometimes be twisted or misunderstood was important.
“It’s something I really wrestle with because my older brother is a police officer, and he has a lot of different values than I do. He’s a very big Trump supporter, and I’m more of a liberal person.” She said, “But I hope to make progress. What we need is to have more dialogue. Without it, we can’t have any resolution.”
Reed chose this weekend because she knew that many alumni and families would be here for Homecoming so more people would see this demonstration. She wants people to understand that they were not protesting the American Flag, dishonoring the troops or disrespecting their country. They were protesting the racial injustice that happens in this country.
Junior Lyli Chavez was one of the 16 who knelt with Reed on the wet track.
Though the national movement to kneel during The Star-Spangled Banner has received backlash from multiple parties, Chavez said the real discussion should be centered around the motivation to kneel in the first place.
“I think it’s dumb that we’re discussing whether or not kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest. What we should be discussing is police brutality. If you’re against us kneeling, it means you don’t care about the big point – the reason we’re kneeling,” Chavez said. 
According to Chavez, though kneeling during homecoming may not make the biggest fundamental impact on campus, it still was an opportunity to increase student awareness. She said even something as simple as starting to question why their protest mattered makes a difference.
“Being able to physically go out and put actions to the words and cause I believe in was really important to me. I want to hold my community accountable and model how to protest – what others should be doing.” Chavez said, “I’m kneeling. Why aren’t you?”
Reed would like to hold another protest again very soon. She has thought about going to basketball games.