A high school volleyball player from Benbrook took a knee during the national anthem again to protest social injustice.
After Aliah Bell’s recent protest at an away game, she got backlash on social media. But when she played the same team at home, she had additional supporters.
It was sportsmanship on display Friday night from Benbrook fans and Springtown fans. It went from one girl taking a knee during the national anthem to something much larger.
Aliah took a knee as her way of showing solidarity to those killed in questionable police shootings. She was hoping for a different reaction than the one she got the last time her team played Springtown in September. A parent posted a picture of it online and called it disrespectful.
"They thought that it wasn't my right for me to kneel but something good came out of it,” Aliah said.
Sherlanda Swayzer, Aliah’s mom, initially criticized the parent and later got a call from her.
"But she did apologize and tell us and told my daughter that she was sorry for what she did,” she explained. “We're so glad that something positive came from this."
Since Aliah’s story was shared, her support has grown. Al Woolum, a frequent participant in Black Lives Matter protests, attended the game as did Dallas activist Mark Hughes. He was falsely connected to the July ambush on officers by Dallas police in the confusion right after the shootings. Hughes was carrying an A-R 15 while protesting before the shootings.
During the national anthem, introduction of players and the game, fans from both sides were supportive to all the players.
Springtown ISD Superintendent Michael Kelly says the hateful rhetoric against Springtown that he saw on social media after the original post is uncalled for and not what the school or his community is about.
"Tonight was evidence that the kids can come compete and parents can support both sides. And they did so very vocally,” he said. “Even the folks who were here tonight with what may be even was a protest were pretty obvious in their support of all the kids, and that was encouraging."
Kelley says despite claims that the girl was booed during that September game, that was not true. According to what he was told by multiple people who were at the game, that never happened.