Two Lamar football players kneel for National Anthem Friday

Two color guard members also chose to kneel, but everyone else appeared to stand at attention

  • Two Lamar High football players, Javonte Kemp and Bobby Brown, kneel during the National Anthem (Courtesy Dawson Parish)
    Two Lamar High football players, Javonte Kemp and Bobby Brown, kneel during the National Anthem (Courtesy Dawson Parish)
  • Lamar band
    While rumors circulated around the Lamar band about a possible kneeling protest Friday night during the National Anthem, the Viking band had 100 percent participation with no kneeling during the anthem. (Photo: Ken Costlow/Arlington Voice)
Ken Costlow

In a week that saw the Arlington ISD ban the use of powder in the stands by students at athletic events, the focus Friday night turned to defiance during the National Anthem.

With the epicenter being Cravens Field, on the Lamar High School campus, all eyes were fixated on both the Lamar and Sam Houston benches and bleachers as the two schools prepared to clash in the District 4-6A openers for both teams.

Reports around the Lamar campus centered on whether the football players and band would kneel during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

When the Lamar band began playing, all members were standing and playing. Two Lamar football players, defensive linemen Javonte Kemp and Bobby Brown did kneel, along with two members of the school’s color guard, but everyone else stood at attention.

Neither Kemp nor Brown were available for comment after the game, but Lamar head coach Laban DeLay said he upheld the decision of both players.  

“We had a very thorough conversation with the team a couple of days ago and both players told me they felt in their heart of hearts that it was something they needed to do,” DeLay said. “I told them I loved them and supported their right to decide on their own, but I also respected our other players that chose to stand.

“I will always defend my players, and nothing will ever change that.”

According to an official statement from the AISD, “School board policy, FNA (Legal) and related laws do not allow the district to require students to participate in patriotic observances.

“Staff members and students were encouraged to discuss the issues and think through their beliefs, actions and how they might affect others.”

Lamar public address announcer Jay Ryan said he and his crew had been advised of the possibility that some band members might kneel and not participate in the Anthem, but no divergence from the band came across.

Sam Houston’s players, cheerleaders and band members all stood facing the flag for the Anthem. No incidents were reported at the Arlington-North Crowley and Martin-Bowie games.