NFL star's sitting during national anthem could be due to seldom read stanza in song

An NFL star has a lot of people angry tonight - but not for his play on the field but for what he did on the sidelines.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem. He calls it a silent protest against racial and social  injustice in the USA and the lyrics of the star-spangled banner could play a role in the controversy.

It is unclear if Kaepernick knew about a portion of the Star-Spangled Banner before he decided to sit out the national anthem. That portion is something a lot of people probably never read until now.

Here's the backstory: it is the War of 1812, America versus Great Britain and black slaves are escaping to British territory to win their freedom and fight against America.

By now you've heard about the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, refusing to stand for the national anthem because of what he calls America's  past and present treatment of African-Americans.

"When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is represents people the way it is supposed to, I'll stand," he said.

And there's a seldom read or sung stanza in the song representing the flag which says in part

"No refuge could save / the hireling and slave / from the terror of flight or gloom of the grave."

Is this celebrating the deaths of self-emancipated black people?

"Absolutely, absolutely," said Dr. Marc Kruman.

We took a closer look at the national anthem with Kruman, director of Wayne State's Center for the Study of Citizenship and professor of history.

"It's not a defense of slavery although Key was a slave owner and did defend slavery," Kruman said. "It wasn't about that, it was about the war and the way in which runaway or self-emancipated African-Americans had gone to fight for the British."

FOX 2: "Is it in any way possible he was referring to Germans fighting for the British during the War of 1812?"

"That would refer to the hirelings part of the phrase," Kruman said. "But not to the slave."

FOX 2 shared that portion of the national anthem and its historical context with metro Detroiters.

"I had no idea that that verse even existed," said one man, an African-American.

Some were moved.

"When you dig into it like that, its neanderthalic thinking," said one younger white man.

Others only slightly.

"His message needs to be heard but in a different venue," said a white woman.

Even so it's an alarming reality and one Kruman says we would do well to consider when thinking about issues of race, oppression and protest today.

"Both the Star-Spangled Banner as a national anthem and the Star-spangled Banner as the flag, they both have been sources of contention over the meaning of patriotism and what it means to be an American citizen," Kruman said.

The Kaepernick controversy has plenty of people talking and this look at the national anthem will be no different.

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