NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It was just last week, a local high school football player took a knee during the National Anthem.
His name is Ismail Stewart, a senior on the Niskayuna High School football team.
Last week, he took a knee before his game. Since then his life has been flipped upside down.
“For the first time, I stood up for something that I truly believed in.”
It was a choice he made after many of his idols in the National Football League did the same. A protest against social injustice and racism.
“I’m glad they’re using their platform as NFL players.”
Stewart says in the moment, he was nervous. What happened next really surprised him.
“I’ve been receiving a lot of death threats. A lot of hate, a lot of racism.”
On social media, people near and far have reached out to him. Some supportive and other not.
Stewart says he doesn’t regret his choice.
“The more flak you’re having, the more chances you’re doing something right.”
“The only thing that upsets me is people assuming I’m doing it for the wrong reason.”
He says this isn’t a protest against the flag, the country, or the men and women who serve.
“I respect all police officers, I respect all law enforcement.”
According to him, it’s simply to start a conversation and maybe make a change.
“Be that strong person. Stand up for your beliefs. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Niskayuna has a game scheduled Friday night.
The head coach says the team will have a moment of silence before the game and then all will stand with their arms locked for the National Anthem.