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A number of people are unhappy about Gladys Knight’s decision to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl next month. Among those upset is Najee Ali, Director of Project Islamic HOPE.

Ali wrote an open letter to Knight that read:

This is an open letter to Gladys Knight, the legendary singer who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and seven-time Grammy Award-winner.

Sister Gladys, no one can dispute that as a a singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman, and author, your career achievements are outstanding. I, along with many African Americans, grew up listening and loving your music. So I write this to you with extreme disappointment as you prepare to perform the National Anthem (“The Star Bangled Banner”) at this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Sister Gladys, you issued a statement commenting on Colin Kaepernick and defending your position which reads in part:

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she wrote. “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.

“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.

Sister Gladys, the fact that you admit to being a long-time civil rights activist doesn’t make you exempt for being called out if you start cooning and selling your people out in your old age. Your life experiences in the movement should make you know better. NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown another long-time champion of civil rights was also held accountable by our people when he began meeting with Donald Trump and stating his support for the president whose policies have been a disaster for low income and middle class African-Americans. No one is above reproach or exemption because of being elderly and past contributions in the civil rights movements. We called for Brown to stop buck dancing and cooning for white people and now were calling for you to stop it,

As you know, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who sacrificed so much was eventually assassinated for standing up and fighting for our civil rights. King’s work is exemplified in Colin Kaepernick the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and decision to kneel instead — to protest police brutality has made him a modern-day King and drum major for justice. Kaepernick has now been blackballed by the NFL owners.

Kaepernick took a stand for black women, children, and men who were being killed unjustly by police nationwide with no convictions and for all people of color. Kap gave up his plate and I didn’t hear him ask you to give up your plate sister Gladys. Courage isn’t for everyone. I get that. This is about police brutality and the blackballing of a man because he kneeled to bring attention to the police murders of people of color. Kaepernick put millions on the line and sacrificed his career, so people of color could live in peace, without the threat of state sanctioned murder.  When the NFL or any corporation punishes a man for standing against police brutality then that means the league and that company or corporation is in favor and a supporter of police brutality!

So, we can’t give our talent, time or money to any business that doesn’t support black and brown lives and our issues. Sister Glady’s what black people need to understand is Kaepernick is in a position like what Rosa Parks faced and what helped give birth to the civil rights movement you stated you helped participate in.

The reality is this isn’t about you singing at the Super Bowl. It’s about you giving cover comfort and aid to the NFL who as a corporation have ignored all the  unjust police murders of black people, racial profiling, police abuse, and the violation of our civil rights that Kaepernick put into the national spotlight. This is about Anthony A.J.Weber, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and other unarmed black people who were gunned down by police (and a wanna-be cop). This is about Freddy Grey & corrupt police planting evidence on black people. This is about Oscar Grant & Fruitvale Station. This is about Laquan McDonald who was killed while unarmed by several white police officers in Chicago with only one cop being convicted and sentenced to a slap on the wrist with just six years in prison for killing him.

Sister Gladys you’re doing this for your ego and career. You singing the anthem won’t help unite our nation. Marvin Gaye, Mariah Carey, and several other legendary singers have all sung the anthem during their careers and unarmed black people continue to be murdered  like dogs in the street by trigger happy police. The original national anthem which wasn’t written for black folks in the first place speaks about hunting down and murdering our ancestors, plain and simple. Try actually going to Google and reading it in its entirety along with its racist third verse.

Kaepernick exposed the lies and hypocrisy of Americans who believe in free speech but only for white men and black people who prove that many of us are woke only in our opinions but not in our actions. That’s why it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Sister Gladys, do you love the NFL and its racist owners? Or do you love black people more? Kaepernick proved he loves his people. And is now being blackballed by the NFL. Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Tyisha Miller, Sean Bell and countless other brothers and sisters who were killed unjustly won’t watch the Super Bowl or anything else ever. So, I’m still with Kap.

Those that choose to continue to support the NFL boycott will be on the right side of history. Those that choose to support the NFL (Negros For Lease) have chosen to support the NFL plantation and clearly love a game more than they love their own people. Where would the Montgomery bus boycott have been if black people did this back then? They walked miles to work for over a year. Yet here we are today benefiting from their sacrifice but unwilling to stick together on such an issue for one night.

Understand, not a single team hired Kaepernick. They remain in solidarity in their decision.  I have no respect for anyone performing in the Super Bowl. Sistah Gladys, based on your civil rights laurels you boasted about, your betrayal of the movement and your own people are shocking. Just say you want the check and stop pretending you’re doing this for us.

Najee Ali

Director of Project Islamic HOPE

Memorable Super Bowl Halftimes: A Look Back
10 photos


62 thoughts on “Open Letter Calls On Gladys Knight To Stop ‘Buck Dancing And Cooning’

  1. Stop bulling Gladys Knight!!! The black players will play and the black fans will watch the NFL plantation game(as you call it) on Super Bowl Sunday but you failed to admonish them. Your blistering attack on Gladys Knight was shocking and incredibly mean spirited. While we are all entitled to say and do as we please, your letter was rude and mean spirited. Is that how the Koran teaches you to treat people? I’ve never heard of Project Islamic HOPE but as their director, you should set a strong example not embarrass them.

  2. Diane Ward on said:

    With all due respect to Ms. Gladys, the ISSUE remains that Ms. Gladys fabricated the REAL reason for singing the national anthem is to somehow rescue, unite us in the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is bologna! She just needs to come clean as to the REAL reason for singing the national anthem in the super bowl is to receive the doggone paycheck… Flat Out, keeping it Real. Why sugarcoat it? Although she likely has good intentions, without evil malice, she is not being totally honest as to her real motivation to sing in the super bowl. If she really wanted to push through in the Civil Rights movement, she would be on the forefront to speak out against police brutality, racial discrimination, etc.

  3. “in your old age” is totally disrespectful. The words should have been chosen more carefully. You could have said ‘as you get older’ or ‘in your golden years.’

  4. African Americans only struggle against themselves! Get over it, move on already! Slavery ended generations ago, it never would have happened in the first place if blacks didnt catch and sell their own people into it anyway. Honestly, when is the last time a white person called you a ni@@er or treated you horribly? When is the last time a cop pulled you over and beat you? I’m willing to bet that if you were stuck on the side of the road in a broken down car a white person would be more willing to stop and help you before a black person would. And be honest, I’m also willing to bet that black people are more racist and hateful than all the other races combined. You waste all your time and energy on making all the other races walk on egg shells around you but yet allow your own people treat you worse. Life is happier and easier when you just get along and work with others. Why waste time being negative, militant, and unreasonable? Doesnt it get exhausting always looking for something to fight and argue about? You just seem to be very miserable negative people. My god, it has to get old! By the way, my wife is a black Brazilian, she came here and got a good job, bought her own home and got that American dream. She is so grateful for what she got here in America. We live in Utah and she is one of probably 3 black people in our town and she is probably the most well liked person here. She is so nice, always happy, never said a bad word about anyone. Everyone adores her, my mother brags to everyone that she is her mother in law. She has never had anyone act in a racist manner at all! Why is that, in utah, almost completely white? Maybe it’s because people treat you based on your attitude and not race and that is the true reality.

  5. African Americans only struggle against themselves! Get over it, move on already! Slavery ended generations ago, it never would have happened in the first place if blacks didnt catch and sell their own people into it anyway. Honestly, when is the last time a white person called you a ni@@er or treated you horribly? When is the last time a cop pulled you over and beat you? I’m willing to bet that if you were stuck on the side of the road in a broken down car a white person would be more willing to stop and help you before a black person would. And be honest, I’m also willing to bet that black people are more racist and hateful than all the other races combined. You waste all your time and energy on making all the other races walk on egg shells around you but yet allow your own people treat you worse. Life is happier and easier when you just get along and work with others. Why waste time being negative, militant, and unreasonable? Doesnt it get exhausting always looking for something to fight and argue about? You just seem to be very miserable negative people. My god, it has to get old!

      • @BarbaraDavis: Barbara, have U noticed that Colin K. & the Football Players are NOT Kneeling or Protesting ANY MORE at the Stadiums. IF THEY ARE NOT PROTESTING ANY MORE, it does not make common sense for G.Knight to Protest. Rosa Parks Protested on the Bus, are U going to protest on the Bus too? Barbara, Colin K. & the Black Football Players have MOVE=ON.

  6. Howard Mckay on said:

    I have been a Gladys Knight fan for many years. I can’t believe all the negative statements she is getting from people who said they love her and her music. I will love to see her sing for what she believe in. You people need to fix your hearts before God. If Aretha Franklin wanted to sing her last song at the game, it would be alright. But now you all want to put Gladys Knight down. That’s just wrong.

  7. Alex Glover on said:

    While I am a Black Man who knows that I can be a victim of Police Brutality on any Day, I stand a higher chance of being a crime victim by my own people. While police brutality is a serious subject that needs to be dealt with, I don’t think we will ever be taken seriously until stop Black on Black Crime

    • Amen, my African American Sister! We’ve got to fix this by working together, not be working against those who have spent their lives trying to help our people. I understood that letter, but it left much to be desired relative to castigating Gladys much too harshly and unjustly. I doubt that Gladys gives much of a damn about the paycheck versus what she believe is doing the right thing for our nation… and she’s entitled to her opinion. She’s not about to set the cause back by what she will be doing, no matter what the writer of that letter thinks. Either we all must pull together or we will all perish!

  8. Zerkeise on said:

    We will all sing when we stop killing each other. How about when we start fighting for our freedom (prison) after our ancestors fought and died for our freedom!

  9. dorothy johnson on said:


    • @dorothyjohnson: Colin.K. & the football players of the NFL are NOT Kneeling and/or Protesting ANYMORE! They have moved-on, therefore there is no need for G.Knight to protest. That Train Has Left The Station when Colin.K. & the Football Players ENDED their kneeling and/or protesting. They made their point. Game Over as Rosa Parks Sit-In on the Bus is over. Why should she protest & Colin K. & the Football Players are NOT protesting anymore?!

  10. I’ll bet Ms. Gladys never thought she would ever be subject to hatred from her own kind after all the time and financial support she’s given for equal rights through the years. Maybe she was going to donate the money from the performance to the movement.

    • Diane Ward on said:

      That would be the only way Ms. Gladys would be the slightest justified in singing the national anthem at super bowl, is to donate All proceeds to the Black Lives Matter Civil Rights movement or another legitimate civil rights organization. But if she is Not going to donate, she definitely is Not justified in her actions going through with this.

      • Tyrone on said:

        @D.Ward, Colin K. & the Football Players are NOT protesting, so why should Ms. Knight have to protest?

  11. shelley mcmahon on said:

    Here we are looking at the WRONG thing again how come your not asking the BLACK PLAYERS to boycott. Singing the song is NOT the problem WAKE UP
    ALI get off your high horse and sit down
    Gladys be proud of yourself
    If we tried sticking together more we could stay together.

  12. I betcha the football players (Blacks) will play on that field super bowl Sunday!!!
    Why don’t yall Negros tell the football players (Blacks) to not play the game that day in honor of Kappernick, if not then leave Gladys the hell alone.
    I like Black people but I hate Ni@$ers like y’all.

  13. MyPeople on said:

    Y’all don’t want blk ppl 2 sing at the superbowl; but how many players aren’t gonna play? How many blk ppl are NOT gonna watch the big game.. So the only ppl that we are prohibiting 2 make money is the music artist?

  14. J rock on said:

    Ms.knight is as much a part of history as history it self. She has been called a coon, the n word and anything else we as black people have been called. Thank you CK for opening eyes. Now have u nation noticed how many players have stopped kneeling, or if any are kneeling at all. Do you know players and the NFL have time and money to help stop violence against black, but yet we kill each other. Rap music promote violence and tell me that’s not for the money? Ms. Knight do your thing because what we witnessing is the black version of racism and doing nothing to help pull all races together. Love you Ms. Gladys Knight.

  15. TERRY SAVILL on said:

    In order to unify we all have to support in a unified manner and be tolerant and to encourage those who are unifying and uplifting all ppl their way. Love u Gladys. That dude just rambling bout NOTHING!!!

  16. This is what is wrong this country today. Agree with me or you will be damned. It’s as if no one is allowed to have a different opinion.

  17. Master Clark on said:

    We just wont support her or her music. And anyother black that follow in her footsteps . I will never play her music again !!!

    • Did also stop supporting all the other black singers who have sung the National Anthem, or just the ones who’ve sung it since you jumped on the sheep train? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

      • @kates U are bigger than that. What about her song, FRIENDSHIP TRAIN? and DO YOU LOVE ME JUST A LITTLE, HONEY? U can’t give-up on those uplifting, lovable songs. Do U think GOD has given-up on G.Knight? Come-on, U are bigger than this.

      • My bad Theo. I should have proofread before I hit post comment. My question to Master Clark should have read “Did you also stop supporting all the other black artists who have sung the National Anthem?” My comment read as if I was saying I had stopped. Mea culpa. As I said before, I’d listen to Ms. Knight sing the alphabet. I’m just praying she doesn’t back down.

      • @kates1221, I BE fine to hear her sing that “FRIENDSHIP TRAIN”. I guarantee if she sings that Friendship Train that Trump will bust-ah-Pip-move!! ALL the people in the stadium [Black & white] BE DANCING, Busting-Loose, which is G.Knights calling.

  18. Gladys has fought and earned the right to sing anywhere she wants to.She was fighting for our rights before many of you were born.She faced down discrimination when all she wanted to do was just sing.So go ahead Gladys and do your thing.

  19. Willie on said:

    @Najee Ali: Colin K. and the football players are no longer kneeling and/or protesting at the football stadiums. Note, not one football player is kneeling or protesting as U are urging G.Knight to protest!!! Therefore, it is not Just nor Fair nor Equitable to request G.Knight to protest when ColinK. and the football players have moved on from protesting at the football stadiums. Brother, in all due respect, THAT TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION.

  20. Mrknowitall on said:

    The natural enemy of free black people is a black muslim. They are pedophiles, racists, intolerant bigots, and slave catchers. This boy is evil.

  21. Justbeingme on said:

    I love you Gladys but I agree with Ali I was born in the early 60s I’ve seen how our people were treated and I’ve heard the horror stories. It’s like we are trying to go back in history. I don’t believe she is doing it to unite people she’s doing it for a check. Because if all the black peoples who have been speaking up for our rights and dying for our rights to be treated better to be treated equally and it didn’t change anything what makes you think you are going to change anything. If your not doing it for the money just say you just want to do it but don’t say you are doing it for unity.

    • Willie on said:

      @Justbeinme: the Kneeling and/or Protest is NO MORE at the Football Stadiums..note the football players themselves are NOT kneeling or showing ANY signs of protest! Colin K has moved on. The issue U are addressing, THAT TRAIN HAS ALREADY LEFT THE STATION.

  22. Willie on said:

    FRIENDSHIP TRAIN!!!! I want to hear her sing FRIENDSHIP TRAIN! All funning aside. She is one of our elders. WE are duty bound to let her be, though we may differ with her. As an elder, she sees what We don’t see as a POSSIBLE means and/or way to bring or unite the ENTIRE NATION. What is that saying? ‘things will turn out right or good for those who believe in GOD;’ something to that effect, in other words GOD IS IN CONTROL, no matter what she does or don’t do.

  23. americanize on said:

    Well said Najee Ali,as far as I,m concern no black person in America should sing that racist anthem,but you no there are still coons in our mist.

    • Willie on said:

      @DonnaB., Have U noticed this Football Season that Colin K. & the Black Football Players are NOT Kneeling and/or Protesting ANYMORE at the Football Stadiums? Therefore it is unjust, unfair & not equitable to request G.Knight to protest at the Football Stadium. DonnaB., Colin K. & the Black Football Players have MOVED-ON.

  24. Ted Gravely on said:

    I wish Gladys would not have made that statement. Her opinion, but it does what she sought not to do – divide. She took a shot at Kaepernick’s protest that a lot of people support. As a mature woman, all she had to say was, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don’t wish to divide but unite. I’m honored to perform and hope you trust that my heart is in the right place.” Naw, Ms Gladys had to approach it arrogantly and shots are being fired back at her. She can’t tell Kap that he should not have dragged the anthem into the protest. Well she can, but it wasn’t wise. Sing the slaver’s song, just don’t expect free people to join in.

  25. This is outrageously stupid and childish. Ms. Knight has been performing before alot of self-centered, narcissistic soft dick babies were born. How dare these nobodies tell her what she should and shouldn’t do. I don’t care for the National Anthem because of its historic biases toward African Americans and other marginalized groups at that time, however, I don’t have the right to tell someone else how they must feel, how they must act and what they must do. Entitled jackasses and I hope she gives them the much deserved middle finger salute and goes on to sing her heart out as only she can do.

    • Proudtobeme on said:

      How sad you are and anyone who agrees with you!!! Just pitiful! You and ppl like you are the reason white ppl can get away with the disrespect and mistreatment of blk ppl the way they do. And the reason we can’t stick together for the common good!!! Did you even take the time to read the whole article? You’re misguided statement screams you did not!! How sad for you!!

      • Unlike you, I am not obsessed or concerned with what white or any other people think or feel about me. Not dedicated my brain to this nonsensical thinking allows me to focus on important things; not the free will and actions of others. Slavery ended in 1863 but your brain is still in bondage in 2019 and that, my friend, is truly sad.

    • Carolyn Sudler on said:

      I totally agree with you I couldn’t have said it better look like we are always looking for something too complain about let’s talk about all of our black folks killing each other let’s talk about that lets did something

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