Meet Colin Kaepernick's Indiana predecessor: HS student first kneeled for the anthem in 1987

Posted at 1:51 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 14:55:51-05

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. -- Free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been heralded as an "iconic figure" for starting the movement of not standing during the national anthem. 

But it turns out Kaepernick  wasn't the first one to take a stand on the issue. 

In December 1987, an Indiana student named Chuck Cannon challenged the Hebron High School principal's rule that all students must stand for the national anthem when it is played at extracurricular events. 

Cannon challenged the rule citing a 1943 Supreme Court ruling, West Virginia State Board of Education vs Barnett. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld two children's rights to not salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The children were Jehovah's Witnesses who were instructed by their father not to salute the flag or recite the pledge.

In 1987, Cannon told the Boone Township Advisory Board he is proud of his country but doesn't believe the ideals of the United States are "captured in a piece of cloth," the Indianapolis Star reported at the time.  

The attorney for the school district, after researching the case, determined the student was correct. He told the board that the policy can't be enforced.

Cannon said some people in his community told him he should move to Cuba for challenging the rule, the Star reported. But the board's lawyer said he believes people in the area learned lessons from the 18-year-old.

"To me it was carrying patriotism to another level," he said. "Some people say. 'By God, we ought to stand for the flag of the country.' What does this country stand for?"

Those arguments, on both sides, of standing for the national anthem are being heard again in the 21st century. When many NFL players, including some Indianapolis Colts, kneeled during the national anthem to protest oppression against people of color and police brutality, some fans reacted in outrage. 

Some Colts fans burned their tickets or jerseys, saying the players were being un-American. Many people have sworn off the NFL because of the kneeling. 

In 2018, Indiana high schools don't have the same policy as Hebron High School did in 1988. The IHSAA has no policy on enforcing students to stand for the anthem. 

In 1988, legendary RTV6 journalist Howard Caldwell offered his perspective on the issue with the 18-year-old from Hebron High School.

"I'm impressed with that high school junior in Porter County," Caldwell said. "He did such a good job of absorbing information in one of his textbooks he provided most of us with some knowledge. ... Chuck obviously is a very bright, young man. I hope that he realizes in a lot of countries, he wouldn't have been able to question such a policy, no matter what a court had to say about it 44 years ago."

Watch Caldwell give his perspective on standing for the national anthem in the video below. 


MORE NATIONAL ANTHEM COVERAGE | IHSAA staying mum about national anthem protests | Colts on choice to kneel for anthem: 'We have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot' | Trump tweets anew about NFL players, national anthem protest | School officials concerned that IHSAA has no policy for students regarding the national anthem | Vice President Pence leaves Colts game after 49ers kneel during National Anthem | Indiana Fever player explains team kneel during National Anthem

Top Trending Videos