Gladys Knight once again defended her decision to sing the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII and said she’s “fought long and hard” for the opportunity to do so.
“I understand that Mr. [Colin] Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” the 74-year-old singer shared in a lengthy statement to TMZ on Friday. (RELATED: Maroon 5 Confirms That They’ll Play The Super Bowl Halftime Show With Travis Scott And Big Boi)
“It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone,” she added. (RELATED: Travis Scott Beefs Up Security For Kylie Jenner And Daughter Stormi)
Knight continued, “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.”
“I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII,” the “Neither One Of Us” hitmaker explained. “No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it.”
“I pray that this national anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us,” she added.
The comments come on the heels of criticism from the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and stars like Amy Schumer, Common, and other celebrities who have said the performers, Travis Scott, Maroon 5 and Big Boi, should not do the halftime show at the big game in Atlanta next month in support of Kaepernick.