KENNESAW, Ga. - Kennesaw State University's president has had a changed his mind. Sam Olens will allow the cheerleaders to be on the field during the National Anthem at this weekend's home football game. The cheerleaders were forced to stay in the tunnel for the past two home games after five of them took a knee.
"This has to do with social injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, and a push to move America in a more active way where we're looking at race relations," said Davante Lewis, a spokesman for the five cheerleaders.
But university officials saw it as a sign of disrespect and banned the cheerleaders from the field until after the national anthem.
Over the past few weeks, there have been several protests on campus supporting the five cheerleaders, who have come to be known as the Kennesaw Five.
Wednesday, KSU President Sam released a statement reading in part:
"After much reflection, I have decided that at Kennesaw State's next home game on November 11, the pre-game program will be restored to its original format, with the cheerleaders taking the field before the singing of the National Anthem. I will stand during the National Anthem to honor the women and men who have served in our nation's armed forces. While I choose this action, I do not believe that this debate has to be a choice between honoring our veterans and protecting the freedom of speech. We must be able to do both."
Lewis questioned the timing of the decision. This Saturday is the Military Appreciation Game.
"I think it's a political stunt to showcase and put pressure on the girls to now have to face what critics have always said against this protest that its disrespectful to men and women who serve our nation's military. This protest has nothing to do with the men and women who serve our country," said Lewis.
Lewis said the Kennesaw Five plan to take a knee at Saturday's game.
"This wasn't a photo op, this wasn't a press showing, this is a movement from their hearts and they will continue to do that," said Lewis.