"There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey's drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made."
More recently, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf played point guard for the Denver Nuggets from 1990 to 1996, when he made headlines for his refusal to stand for the anthem.
Abdul-Rauf said the American flag was "a symbol of oppression, of tyranny" and that supporting oppression would be against his Muslim faith.
He was suspended for one game but was ultimately allowed to stand with his eyes closed and head bent down during the anthem, Sports Illustrated reported.
In 2003, college basketball player Toni Smith made national headlines when she protested the Iraq War by turning her back on the flag during the national anthem.
A year later, baseball first baseman Carlos Delgado, who was playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, protested the recitation of "God Bless America," which many teams played before games after the Sept. 11 attacks, by staying in the dugout during the song.
"It's a very terrible thing that happened on Sept. 11," Delgado told the Toronto Star at the time. "It's (also) a terrible thing that happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war."
Delgado ended the protest in 2006 when he was traded to the New York Mets.
In 2014, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters stayed in the locker room during the recitation of the anthem before a game against the Utah Jazz. He initially said he purposely avoided it because of his Muslim faith but later said that his missing the anthem was a "simple miscommunication."
>> Looks like Colin Kaepernick is sitting through the national anthem for some time
So far, despite the backlash, Kaepernick has said Sunday that he's sticking with his stance.
"I'll continue to sit," he said Sunday. "I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there's significant change -- and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to -- I'll stand."
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