Black history: The Philadelphia athlete who pioneered anthem protests

After they were arrested at a 1961 sit-in, Philadelphians Juanita and Wally Nelson and Eroseanna Robinson continued activism throughout their lives.

Eroseanna Robinson was one of the first athletes to protest injustice by not standing for the national anthem

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In 1961, the Bar H Chuck House was one of many segregated restaurants in Cecil County, Maryland. A group called the Freedom Riders put out the call for young people from around the region to help them test a Supreme Court ruling declaring this unconstitutional, and a trio from Philadelphia answered the call.

These young activists were Powelton Village residents Juanita and Wally Nelson and Eroseanna Robinson — and when they sat down in the “white” section of the diner and refused to move, they were all arrested.

For each of them, the act was just one early step of many in their lifelong fights for civil rights for Black Americans.

The Nelsons began seeking ways to avoid funding what they saw as a corrupt U.S. government, while Robinson, a world-class athlete, is thought to be the first to refuse to stand for the national anthem on a global stage.

Scroll through the thread below for an overview of how their pioneering activism unfolded.


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