BEAUMONT, TX (KTRK) --An 11-year-old and his football teammates decided to protest against racism by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
As the anthem began on September 10th, Jaelun Parkerson and his Beaumont Bulls teammates took off their helmets, kneeled and placed their hands on each others' shoulders. They were following NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's example.
After the team took a knee for a second time on Sept. 17, "Rah-Rah" Barber, the head coach, was dismissed by the team's leadership.
This lead 14 of the team's 19 players to refuse to play unless their coach was reinstated. Earlier this week, the executive board forfeited the three games remaining on the team's schedule.
"Even though we're kids, we can still get the information and know about the stuff that's going on," Jaelun said.
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Jaelun's mother, April Parkerson, said she and her family know racism well.
"Our players have been called the n-word by opposing teams," Parkerson said. "I had to explain to my son what that meant when he was called that for the first time at, you know, 9-years-old."
Parkerson said the team has received support, but also death threats.
"We have someone who commented, 'kill them all,' in response to someone who was showing support for our organization," Parkerson said.
Jaelun takes these comments to heart. "It just makes me sad and scared," he said.
The team's former coach told Beaumont's 12News he disagrees with the team's decision to kneel during the anthem.
"I was just disgusted with the whole thing," Tre Martin said, "The only reason those boys get to play football and we have a country like we do is because of our veterans and flag, and what it represents."
The Beaumont Bulls executive board sent Eyewitness News a statement expressing their support for the team, saying in part:
"It is our hope and desire to cultivate young men that will be leaders in our communities that will make a difference in this world and though their stance was not seen by all as a sign of progress, we believe it was and we will continue to support them."
Jaelun said he wants other people to learn something from his silent protest. "That everybody is the same deep down."
Parkerson said she has not reported the threats to Beaumont Police yet, but she will if she feels her family is directly threatened.