In 1943, the Supreme Court (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette) ruled the state could not compel students to pledge allegiance to the flag. Now, 27 Tennessee state senators are instructing university presidents to violate that ruling by requiring athletes stand during the anthem.

Athletes kneel to bring awareness to systemic racism. Most people who deny systemic racism are not racist; they are uniformed. Blacks are 13.4% of the population but 39.3% of U.S. prisoners. The poverty rate for Blacks is 11.5% higher than for whites. The unemployment rate is 71% higher for Blacks than for whites. The Black infant mortality rate is 235% higher than the white rate. More adult Blacks (4.2% more) under 65 lack health insurance than whites. These are the issues that need solving.

Every member of the armed forces took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution … against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I am an Army combat veteran. Systemic racism and denying others their constitutional rights dishonors my service more than athletes kneeling during the anthem.

State appropriations to ETSU for the year ended June 30, 2019, were 28% of total revenue and were $5.5 million less than student fees. That level of support does not give the state the right to micromanage the university. If the 27 signers of the letter to the university presidents were concerned about the issues, they would work to eliminate the racial disparities.

Instead, they prefer to grandstand and deny young adults their rights to bring awareness to the problem.

I am a Kingsport native. I left Kingsport to pursue opportunities not available in the Tri-Cities. I had those opportunities because of my ETSU education. I hope that the state legislature does not do anything to lower the quality of an ETSU education.

J. Gregory Bushong

Weaverville, North Carolina

Better ways to protest

ETSU players and coaches should be ashamed of themselves for kneeling during the national anthem. There’s plenty of other ways to bring attention to racial injustices without disrespecting our flag or national anthem that our soldiers sacrifice for.

When a player wears their uniform, the worst that can happen is losing a game. When a soldier wears their uniform it can be life or death.

Show some respect.

Jack Wells

Mount Carmel

Pony Express

Due to the present state of the delivery services of the United States Postal Service being so late in delivery of the mail, taking four to six weeks to deliver a letter from East Tennessee to North Mississippi, I would like to see if there is any interest in groups of people interested in starting up a new Pony Express again. We could probably cut the delivery time to a fourth of the present delivery time. Folks, what is the problem?

Billy Joe Nuckles

Kingsport

Special thanks

We want to send a special thanks to all the staff at the Civic Auditorium who were helping with the COVID vaccines on Feb. 17.

I called the Sullivan County Health Department on Feb. 16, and my husband and I were scheduled for COVID vaccinations on Feb. 17. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. There were no lines to wait in.

Everything was organized to perfection. We got our shots, waited 15 minutes to make sure there was no reaction, and were out in 25 minutes.

May God bless everyone of you.

Linda Reed

Kingsport