Minnesota’s 2019 “Teacher of the Year” took a knee during the national anthem when she and her fellow honorees were being recognized at Monday night’s college football championship game.
“Honored as State Teachers of the Year at NCAA Champ Football Game,” Kelly Holstine, Minnesota’s top educator, wrote on Twitter. “Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during national anthem because ‘no one is free until we are all free.’”
Honored as State Teachers of the Year at NCAA Champ FB Game. Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, “No one is free until we are all free” (MLK). #imwithkap #blacklivesmatter #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/DimP3pBtBn
— Kelly D. Holstine (she/her) (@kellydholstine) January 14, 2020
Holstine, who skipped an April 2019 ceremony at the White House in protest of President Donald Trump, spoke with The Hill about her decision to take a knee.
“I just decided that it felt like the right thing to do, to have a very respectful protest,” she said. “I think that the current environment that is being created and has been created in his tenure definitely adds to my feelings of wanting to support individuals who are not being supported.”
“Not everybody is given the opportunity to have a voice, and I can take a small moment, a respectful moment of protest, and exercise my First Amendment rights, and stand up for students and for vulnerable adults and for people who are not treated in the way that they should be,” Holstine added.
She describes herself as a “gender non-conforming, lesbian teacher” and an advocate for “at-risk students.” Holstine worked as an English teacher at Tokata Learning Center in Shakopee when she was recognized as “Teacher of the Year,” but now serves as the director of educational equity for OutFront Minnesota, an LGBT non-profit organization.
Holstine delivered a Ted Talk last week in which she called on educators to “be more than allies.”
“It is not enough for educators to just be allies. We need them to be advocates, too,” Holstine said. “Advocate comes from the Latin word for ‘add a voice.’ These are the folks who are fighting for people’s rights and taking action. The ones who are speaking up in public spaces in support of causes and equity. The people who are challenging xenophobia in school policies and in staff meetings. The educators who are writing articles and emails, creating support groups and working alongside our unions.”
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