A Black 11-year-old Little League Football Player in Atlanta is switching teams after experiencing backlash for taking a knee during the National Anthem. The boy, Elijah, says he chose to kneel at the start of a game last month as a show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Elijah’s parents, they say one of his coaches disapproved of kneeling during the anthem and made their son feel unwelcome, Daily Mail reports.
During an interview with 11Alive, Elijah said he hoped to make “good trouble” by kneeling. “I’ve been thinking about it for a good while now,” he said. “Actually, since the protests.”
Furthermore, speaking of the BLM movement, Elijah says, “It was amazing. Just the experience of seeing all these people that want to stand up for our lives – especially different races.”
Elijah has played with the Brooks Bears for four years. However, after kneeling, Elijah’s parents say that a coach approached them voicing their disapproval.
Felicia, Elijah’s mom, says, “The downside is, adversity happens. And it hasn’t been received so well to everyone. Very disappointing.”
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Elijah says he worried about how the team might react. “A lot of things were going through my head,” he said. “Will my team support me, or will they think of me differently once I go to practice?”
Days after the game, Elijah left the Little League team opting to switch over to another.
Elijah’s Dad also spoke out about the issue. “I just wanted to reassure him that he did nothing wrong,” he said. “That it is important to voice his opinion, and not allow anyone to silence him, especially when he feels important about something.”
The Brooks Bears’ football director, Scott Woodward, denies claims that the team discouraged Elijah from taking a knee.
“In no way is our park ever going to tell a kid they can take a knee, or they have to take a knee or they don’t take a knee,” Woodward said. He added that”there were five boys on our team that took a knee.”
[H/T Daily Mail]