'Teacher of the Year' Takes a Knee Near Trump

Kelly D. Holstine says 'it felt like the right thing to do'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2020 9:00 AM CST
'Teacher of the Year' Kneels for Anthem in Trump's Presence
Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Kelly D. Holstine, right, embraces her wife, Emma Freeman, after being named the 54th recipient of the honor on May 6, 2018 in Bloomington, Minn.   (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)

President Trump stood nearby as Kelly D. Holstine took a knee Monday at the College Football Playoff National Championship. It wasn't the first time Holstine, Minnesota's 2018-19 Teacher of the Year, had tried to send a message to Trump, having been one of two educators who skipped out on a White House visit last spring. As Teachers of the Year were honored at Monday's game, Holstine kneeled during the national anthem "as a way to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people," per USA Today. "Martin Luther King Jr. says it best: 'Nobody's free until we're all free,'" she says, per the Hill.

Holstine—who left her teaching job at Shakopee's Tokata Learning Center to become the director of educational equity at OutFront Minnesota, the state's largest LGBT rights organization—learned in advance that Trump would be on the field. "It felt like the right thing to do, to have a very respectful protest" as the environment "created in his tenure definitely adds to my feelings of wanting to support individuals who are not being supported," she tells the Hill. Holstine had encouraged teachers to stand up for oppressed peoples in a TED Talk shared days before her protest, per ABC News. "It is not enough for educators to just be allies. We need them to be advocates too," she said. (Read more national anthem stories.)

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