NFL protests: Pharrell, Stevie Wonder and John Legend 'take a knee' in solidarity against Donald Trump

Donald Trump's attacks on sports stars have prompted celebrities to speak out in solidarity

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
,Helen Hoddinott
Monday 25 September 2017 07:59 BST
NFL protests: Celebrities 'take a knee' in solidarity against Donald Trump

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


John Legend, Stevie Wonder and Ice Cube are among those who have spoken out in support of the NFL players staging demonstrations during matches in the US.

As the US national anthem played at the beginning of matches on 24 September, players knelt on one knee in a show of defiance against Donald Trump.

One team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, chose to remain in their locker room until play commenced.

The move was pioneered by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt in protest against police brutality in 2016.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say: 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired!'" Trump told a crowd in Alabama last week, in an outburst that seemingly came from nowhere.

In response, stars of the entertainment world have shown their support for the players continuing to take the knee during NFL games.

Trump, a man who has long-been obsessed with the entertainment industry as an aspiring A-lister, will no doubt be feeling the sting from these displays of defiance.

Posting on Instagram, actor and singer John Legend shared a photo of himself taking the knee and raising his fist during a show in Hamburg, with images of 1960s civil rights protests shown on a screen behind him.

Legend also wrote a powerful column for Slate titled "The NFL Protests Are Patriotic" which said: "The players' protests are important. Because of them, almost every day of the week, we talk about racial disparities.

"People across this country are suddenly thinking about what it must feel like to be a person of colour, watch an officer shoot an unarmed man, and walk away with a pension."

Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Artist Pharrell Williams took a swipe at Trump's remarks without mentioning him by name, by kneeling before cheering fans during his set at the Concert for Charlottesville, and saying: "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."

Rapper Ice Cub shared Legend's sentiment and posted an image of Trump on Twitter, writing: "Never let a son of a bitch distract you from doing what's right."

Mark Ronson responded to conservative talk radio host and former congressman Joe Walsh after he criticised Stevie Wonder for taking the knee at a concert over the weekend.

Stars of TV and film also spoke out in protest against the US President's attack on NFL players.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill referred to Trump's infamous remark about the Charlottesville protestors - which included neo-Nazis and white supremacists - as "very good people" while Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: "As a football fan, I am proud of the NFL players today. Nothing is more American than the right to peacefully protest."

Director Michael Moore said he would participate in the NFL players protest during a 2pm matinee. Selma drector Ava DuVernay wrote: "He [Trump] is not declaring war on NFL and NBA. Owners are his donors. He's declaring war against black people with opinions."

Samuel L Jackson quipped: "So... How many Sons A'Bitches kneeling tomorrow??!! How many of Dotards boys firing Mothfukkas?? Odds??!!"

Ugly Betty star America Ferrera applauded the athletes for "strength and courage" while actress Olivia Wilde praised the sports community for their bravery.

Follow Independent Culture on Facebook for the latest news, video and features

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in