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Florida NAACP leader reacts to push for anthem ban in California

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 07:54:16-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The country's most patriotic song is once again in the spotlight. The California NAACP wants to introduce a state bill that would remove the iconic song as the national anthem.  We spoke with the president of the Lee County NAACP to get his thoughts on the proposal in California.

NAACP leaders in California are upset about a verse in the Star-Spangled Banner that isn't sung in public. The lyrics in question are in the third verse, which includes the lyric "no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave."

"It's racist," said chapter president Alice Huffman, who wants to see the anthem replaced.

James Muwakkil, chair of the Lee County NAACP chapter, said he understands why the NAACP in California is upset about the lyric.

"There are still some people who agree that the national anthem should not be representing all Americans, because at the time it was written, blacks were enslaved," Muwakkil said.

NFL players have made headlines in 2017 by taking a knee while the anthem is played before games to protest racial injustice.

But Muwakkil said replacing the Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem isn't an issue he will pursue.  "I have no plans in calling for the removal of it," he said. "It's just not that important to me."

Muwakkil said that he instead will continue his push to have a bust of Confederate General Robert E. Lee removed from its place on Monroe Street in downtown Fort Myers, where it has been since the 1960s.