Gladys Knight has responded to criticism after agreeing to sing the National Anthem during this year’s Super Bowl.
The singer and civil rights activist drew negative reactions on social media after it was revealed she would sing the Anthem prior to the sporting event on 3 February.
Some felt her accepting the gig undermined Colin Kaepernick’s activism.
The free agent, then a San Francisco 49er, famously started kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016 before games, to protest police brutality as well as the oppression of black people and people of colour.
One person urged Kaepernick on Twitter to “call out” Knight for agreeing to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.
“Respectfully, the response that Gladys Knight should have given when the NFL came calling is, ‘No, I will not sing until you stop excluding Colin Kaepernick from your league,'” a Twitter user wrote.
“Gladys Knight is now against Colin Kaepernick,” someone else tweeted.
Knight addressed the criticism, telling Variety she understands that Kaepernick is protesting injustice as well as police violence.
“It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone,” she told the publication.
The singer explained she wanted to ‘give the Anthem back its voice’ and expressed the hope that her performance would bring unity.
Knight, who is 74, added: “I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”
Kaepernick has so far not voiced his opinion regarding Knight’s decision.