Singer Sevyn Streeter said she was stopped from performing the national anthem at Wednesday’s Philadelphia 76ers game because she was wearing a jersey that said, “We Matter.”
Streeter, who had been scheduled to sing the national anthem before the NBA team’s season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, posted a video Wednesday night explaining what happened.
“I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game,” she told the Associated Press in an interview. “I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.”
A member of the Sixers dance team sang the national anthem instead.
“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change,” the team said in a statement on Thursday. “We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
The team declined to comment on why Streeter’s performance was canceled and whether she had been asked to change beforehand.
Athletes and performers at sporting events across the country have taken to kneeling during the national anthem in recent months, a movement started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest racial discrimination and police violence.
At a 76ers-Miami Heat preseason game last week, the woman singing the national anthem stepped onto the court and revealed a Black Lives Matter shirt, before kneeling during her performance.
“I also felt it was important to express the ongoing challenges and ongoing injustice we face as a black community within the United States of America—that’s very important to me,” Streeter told the AP on Wednesday, saying the 76ers’ decision “broke my heart.” “Yes, we live in the greatest country in the world but there are issues that we cannot ignore. This can’t be ignored.”
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