A senior forward who plays women’s basketball for the University of Wisconsin is choosing to take a seat on the bench when the national anthem is played before games, according to reports.
When “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played, Marsha Howard, a native of Chicago, sits alone on the bench, closes her eyes and bows her head, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“If this can make a change, I’ll be part of it. I never really thought about the negative backlash. I’m going to live in my truth. I’m going to speak up about things that are harming my culture and my people. I was OK with living in that light,” she told the paper.
Howard sat in protest during a game at Iowa during the 2017-18 season that sparked U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to tweet a reaction last year, Milwaukee radio station WTMJ reported.
“Iowa constituents asked me why a starter for Wisconsin women Bb wld not be patriotic enuf to stand for natl anthem song today,” Grassley tweeted. “ASK THE WISCONSIN COACH / Exprress outrage to university.”
But Howard told the Tribune that she didn’t fear backlash and concentrated on the “overwhelmingly positive responses” that supported her right to free speech.
“I just said, ‘What is he trying to say right now?’ ” Howard said. “Right after he made that tweet, I got 10 other good (tweets). I’m still getting more and more love and support from other outsiders. The positive far outweighs the negative.”