Music super-producer Pharrell Williams showed his support for the NFL players who boycotted the national anthem on Sunday, taking a knee during the Charlottesville unity concert.
“If I want to get on my knees right now for the people of my city, for the people of my state, that’s what this flag is for,” the Grammy-winning singer said at the Concert for Charlottesville, which was organized in the wake of a violent white supremacist rally in the Virginia town.
As part of his demonstration, the “Happy” singer also called for “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of belief, freedom to live.”
The political gesture from Pharrell was intended to show solidarity with those participating in the controversy currently rocking the NFL. Hundreds of players, team owners, and executives made various political demonstrations during the playing of the national anthem before the start of NFL games on Sunday. The teams’ protest was a continuation of former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests and response to President Donald Trump, who called out NFL players for protesting the anthem and the teams’ owners who allow them to.
During a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!’” Trump told his supporters.
Sunday was the first time that NFL owners took part in the protests, as Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan locked arms with his players as they stood on the sidelines.
Pharrell’s anti-American gesture comes a week after he delivered a politically charged speech at VH1’s 2017 Hip Hop Honors: The ’90s Game Changers, in which he urged viewers to “open your eyes” to the racial unrest in America and warned that the real “enemy” is on “this side of the wall.”
“They keep talking about a wall, but the enemy is this divisive mentality,” he said. “It’s on this side of the wall guys and girl, it’s already here, okay? The white nationalists are walking towards your future. What you gonna do?”
Phar. was not the only singer to express support for the NFL protests. Legendary singer Stevie Wonder dropped to both knees ahead of his concert at the Global Citizen Festival in New York.
“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America, but not just one knee – I’m taking both knees,” Wonder said. “Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe. Amen.”