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Duane Saunders, Jr. knew that he and fellow Morgan State University students were doing important work when they created a 2016 documentary that has only recently become a part of the national conversation about professional athletes’ protests during the national anthem. Saunders, a Morgan State alumnus, directed What So Proudly We Hail, a documentary about the anthem’s third verse which boasts that “no refuge could save” the slaves and indentured servants who fought with the British against the American colonies, The Undefeated reports.


Kendra Hawkins, an assistant director of the film, told the news outlet that she and Saunders hoped to educate people who questioned protests against the national anthem: While the documentary didn’t gain recognition as fast as we projected, once the controversy centered around the nation’s anthem arrived, we already had something educational to offer the people.”

Students completed the documentary, which is available on Vimeo, in 2016, just months before Kaepernick’s now famous protest. The documentary could add insight to current national conversations about the protests, which have been sidetracked by the President’s outrageous tweets. What So Proudly We Hail brings the focus back to the original truth that spurned Kaepernick’s protest: there remains “no refuge” for descendants of those mentioned in the third stanza. One scene finds students reading aloud the third stanza:

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”

Saunders told reporters, “We chose to do this documentary because we knew it was something that everyone should know. This information was never taught to us in our history classes, and as a collective we all felt that this story would be the best tackle.”

SOURCE: The Undefeated


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