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VIDEO: As Elections Approach, NFL Protests Are On These Texans' Minds

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When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in 2016, his intention was to protest racial injustice in America.

The act drew fans and fury, but tensions really boiled over when President Trump weighed in, declaring that the protests were not about race, but about disrespect for the military, flag and country. The rebranding and ensuing debate have transformed football fields into the front lines of a culture war, igniting a larger debate over what it means to be an American.

Days after Trump's harshest condemnation of protesting NFL players, the controversy spread from national headlines to a football field and a high school classroom in Texas.

Ronnie Mitchem, a pastor, a former Marine and football coach in Crosby, Texas, dismissed two players on his team for protesting during a pregame anthem. At a high school across town, 18-year-old India Landry was called to the principal's office for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

NPR sat down with a few Texans touched by the NFL protests to understand how the debate around patriotism, free speech and race will inform their votes in the 2018 midterm election.

Politics is Personal is a three-part video project that explores how some of the biggest stories from President Trump's first years in office have affected voters — who will decide whether to reward or reject the president and his party in the midterm elections.

You can watch part 1 here.

You can watch part 3 here.

HearMorning Edition 's story by clicking the audio button above.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.