How to Talk About “Take a Knee” With Students


The “Take a Knee” movement has been a significant topic in recent years, bringing debates on race, social issues, and freedom of expression into the public eye. As educators, it’s essential to discuss these vital topics with our students to help them understand the broader socio-political context and learn from a teachable moment. This article will focus on how to approach the “Take a Knee” conversation with students in a constructive manner.

1. Gauge Your Students’ Prior Knowledge:

Before diving into the discussion, it’s crucial to assess what your students already know about the “Take a Knee” movement. Start by asking questions about their prior knowledge of the subject and why it matters. You can also create a small survey or worksheet for them to fill out anonymously.

2. Provide Background Information:

Begin the conversation by providing some background information on the origins of the “Take a Knee” protest. Explain that this movement started in 2016 when American football player Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the national anthem as a silent protest against racial injustice and police brutality against African Americans.

3. Maintain Open Dialogue:

Encourage an open dialogue while discussing this topic, emphasizing that students express their thoughts respectfully and engage in active listening when others speak. Promote an environment they feel safe sharing their viewpoint without fear or judgment.

4. Address Different Perspectives:

Acknowledge the various perspectives people have on the “Take a Knee” movement, including those who support it as an act of peaceful protest and others who view it as disrespectful toward national symbols and values.

5. Highlight Core Themes:

Tie the issue of “Take a Knee” to broader themes like freedom of speech, racial justice, and civil rights history in America. Ensuring that students understand how this protest connects to broader historical context may lead them to appreciate its significance more.

6. Utilize Powerful Visuals and Media:

Incorporate visual materials, such as videos and news articles, to supplement the conversation. Focus on different narratives and how people from all sides of the issue have been affected by it.

7. Encourage Civic Engagement:

Discuss how students can get involved in efforts promoting social justice or fighting against racial inequality. By providing examples of ways they can take action, you help them feel empowered to participate in the process and make a difference.


As educators, we have the responsibility to engage our students in important social and political discussions like the “Take a Knee” movement. By fostering a safe environment for open dialogue and encouraging critical thinking, we help students develop empathy and understanding across cultural divides. Ultimately, these conversations help create well-rounded citizens who can engage constructively with important issues facing society today.

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