pharrell takes the knee at charlottesville concert

Another artist joins the movement to #TakeTheKnee.

by Isabelle Hellyer
26 September 2017, 7:09am

Pharrell is the latest celebrity to #TakeTheKnee in defiance of Donald Trump, who ignited a fiery debate on Friday after calling for NFL players peacefully protesting during the National Anthem to be fired.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired,'" Trump told the crowd at a rally for fellow Republican Luther Strange.

Condemnation from musicians, sportspeople, comedians, and actors was swift. Ava DuVernay, Zendaya, Chance the Rapper, Diddy, J. Cole, Mark Ronson, John Legend, and Yara Shahidi spoke out in support of players choosing to kneel in protest of racial injustices and police brutality. In recent days, the kneel has also come to signify opposition to Trump's attacks on freedom of speech.

Yesterday, Pharrell joined the chorus of voices at the Concert for Charlottesville. The performance was held on the University of Virginia campus, the site of last month's violent white supremacist rally which led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Addressing the crowd at the end of his set, Pharrell, a Virginia native, said "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."

On Saturday, Stevie Wonder also knelt during a performance in New York, telling the crowd, "Tonight, I'm taking a knee for America. But not just one knee. I'm taking both knees."

Many commenters, including Zoë Kravitz, pointed out Trump characterised the far-right protesters of Charlottesville as "fine people," while NFL players peacefully protesting were labelled "sons of bitches."