Kendall Qualls: Dear NFL, there’s only one national anthem

Now more than ever, a divided America needs a unifying spark.

For decades, through economic uncertainty, foreign wars, and civil strife at home, the game of football has given Americans a break from the chaos and united Americans. (Adobe Stock)

For decades, through economic uncertainty, foreign wars, and civil strife at home, the game of football has given Americans a break from the chaos and united Americans, even if temporarily. And the championship game of all games — the Super Bowl — has been the biggest unifier of them all. Now more than ever, a divided America needs a unifying spark.

On behalf of the silent majority of Americans, I’m urging Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, and the team owners to reformat the pre-game activities for the performance of only one anthem at this year’s Super Bowl — the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and forego performing the “Black National Anthem,”  “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Allow me to remind you and football fans alike that the NFL has a history of doing what was right without political pressure or pandering to special interest groups.

During Super Bowls I-V, the country was learning to work together in a newly integrated society during the turbulent times of the anti-Vietnam War era and widespread racial riots.  It was the NFL that provided the nation with a constant example that people of different economic backgrounds and ethnicities could work together, and form bonds of trust and commitment towards a common goal in harmony with each other.

In those turbulent times for Super Bowl II, the NFL invited the collegiate marching band from the all-black college, Grambling University in Louisiana to perform and sing only one national anthem — “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a crowd of 75,500 fans at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. This gracious gesture and act of leadership occurred without compromising to performing the Black National Anthem when it was at the height of its popularity in the black community.

In 1976 our nation celebrated its 200-year anniversary and the NFL celebrated with Super Bowl X. Ironically, I am writing this letter in my home state of Minnesota where many Vikings fans are still recovering from the play-off loss in the final seconds of the game to the Dallas Cowboys that propelled them to Super Bowl X. In this game, each team wore a logo commemorating our nation’s 200-year history. As we all know, it is a history of the good, the bad, and the ugly but in 1976 we celebrated the anniversary and acknowledged how much we have progressed together as a people and a nation (remember that for the Semiquincentennial in 2026).

The decision to perform only one anthem is not as controversial as you might think. Americans will back you, including black Americans.

The media rarely reports or provides visibility to the silent majority. For example, the political class wants to severely restrict school choice outside of public schools, but the majority of black Americans want school choice to secure a better future for their children. Another example of the silent majority having no voice involves the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate racial preferences for college admissions. Fifty-two percent of black Americans agreed with that decision.

False narrative of disparities

Many of us realize that you and the team owners allowed the performance of the Black National Anthem as a way to appease social justice activists. Like many in the country, we have been deceived about the root cause of racial disparities and the solutions to close those gaps.

The majority of the disparities are not because of systemic racism or white privilege as reported. The main driver of those disparities is because of the crisis of fatherless homes we have allowed to fester for the past five decades.

At the time of Super Bowl I, 80% of infants born in black families were raised in two-parent families. By the time of Super Bowl LI (50 years later), nearly 80% of infants were born in fatherless homes. The evidence has become so strong that even traditional left-leaning institutions are acknowledging the root problem. Economist Melissa Kearny, PhD, senior fellow with the Brookings Institute, published a book last year, The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind. She wrote “that the link between single parenting, inequality, and mobility in America is too strong to deny.”

By accepting the false narrative of racial disparities, the NFL has become an unwitting enabler of a culture that needs intervention.

Historically, the black community was rooted in “faith, family and education” (getting a better education for their children). Unfortunately, through government financial incentives, misguided leadership, and declining moral standards of the 1960s and 1970s, the black community drifted away from a God-centered culture to a government-dependent culture.

Our organization, TakeCharge, was formed three years ago to initiate a transformation in the culture. Like a new coach recruited to turnaround a habitual losing team, the black community will make a course correction with a new generation of strong, selfless, and God-centered leaders. In the meantime, make Super Bowl LVIII the spark plug that begins to unify the nation once more by performing only one anthem — “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one). Let’s keep it this way.

This article was first published at The Christian Post


Kendall Qualls

Kendall Qualls is the President of TakeCharge, Minnesota which is an organization committed to supporting the notion that the promise of America works for everyone regardless of race or station in life. Mr. Qualls was a Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. Prior to his candidacy, he was a health care executive and served in the U.S. Army as an Artillery officer. Mr. Qualls has been married for 36 years and has five children.