The home opener for the Philadelphia 76ers was supposed to begin, as all of their games do, with a performance of The Star Spangled Banner. Yet last night’s game didn’t begin as planned–all becasue of the shirt the anthem singer wore to the game.
Sevyn Streeter wore a black jersey with “We Matter” written in bold white letters across the front. When the 76ers got wind of what seemed to be part of a coordinated attempt to take focus away from the anthem, they canceled her performance.
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“I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game,” Streeter said. “I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.”
— Sevyn (@sevyn) October 26, 2016
The 76ers had chosen the popular R&B singer, and had promoted her appearance. They’d even offered her fans an opportunity to meet her during the third quarter.
The 76ers have issued a statement, but haven’t spelled out exactly why Streeter’s performance was canceled.
“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
Instead of canceling the anthem altogether, a member of the 76ers dance team stepped up and sang.
“I was angry, extremely, extremely angry and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” Streeter said. “Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that.”
“All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”
— Sevyn (@sevyn) October 27, 2016
For a prolonged interview with Streeter, play this. She begins talking just over the 1:00 mark on the video.