In a league where players have gone silent, A’s Bruce Maxwell makes his voice heard


Bruce Maxwell kneels during the National Anthem before a game against the Texas Rangers on September 23, 2017.

By Matthew Bradford, Newsome High School

Just four months ago, Oakland Athletics rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell was a minor leaguer hoping to get another crack at the big leagues. Today, he’s making national headlines after becoming the first Major League Baseball player to protest racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. He did this a day after President Trump called for NFL owners to fire their players on the spot who choose to kneel for the anthem and personally uninvited the reigning NBA champions from taking an official visit to The White House.

In a league where players have fallen silent on social justice issues, Maxwell has taken the first step toward creating a lane for major-leaguers to voice their opinions on issues present in today’s society.

Maxwell agreed to be interviewed by Wolf Tracks reporter Matthew Bradford and shared the reasoning behind his protest, what he told his teammates before his protest, and what he thinks the future holds for protests in baseball.

MATT: Alright, so you were born on a military base in Germany, what was that like growing up in a military family, especially being born overseas?

BRUCE: I didn’t move around a whole lot. I was born in Germany. I was there for about three years or so and then my dad got stationed in Alabama and I’ve been there ever since. My dad didn’t serve super long in the military, I think he was in there for like nine years or something like that, but you know when I got a little older and started playing competitive sports, my dad got out of the army. My dad went into the army because he had two daughters by the age of 21, I think, and he needed a way to feed his family so he dropped out of college and enlisted in the army. My dad always told me, ‘I joined the army so you wouldn’t have to.’ For every reason I’m sitting here and breathing, my parents are for everything I’m doing.

MATT: Obviously a lot of people who have been on the other side of the spectrum say they believe that kneeling is disrespectful to the military. So, what would you say to people who say you’re disrespecting the military?

BRUCE: This is what people don’t understand. People are coming at me with hate and coming after anybody who protests the flag because they choose not to understand the reason we’re doing it. These are the same people who sit at home and sit on the couch, drink their beer, drink their beverage of choice when they are watching a sport and when the national anthem is on, they don’t remove their hat, they don’t stand at attention, they do not salute.

At the end of the day, I’m not protesting towards the military. I’m protesting a bigger cause that is going on with the American people and with society that is going on in our country today. That is the reason the military lays their life on the line every single day for the people inside this country that are citizens of this country to be able to exercise their 1st amendment rights, whether they agree with them or not. I know plenty of people and family that are in the military still that serve every single day. And that’s what they fight for. They fight for the freedom to be free of choice when it comes to the American citizen. Whether they agree with it or not, that is the reason they fight.

To defend this country, you know land of the free, home of the brave, that’s how it works so for people to tell me I’m disrespecting the flag. First of all you talk to anybody, a lot of people don’t even know what the flag actually truly stands for. Somebody sent me this the other day. The definition of patriotism is not staring at the flag and reciting the anthem. The definition of patriotism when it comes to your country is being able to proudly stand for your flag and know that what your flag represents is being upheld, which is not the case right now.

Our constitution says all men are created equal and right now they are not equals in this country. There are people being killed, being reprimanded for the color of their skin, for where they come from, what their heritage is, whatever have you, there’s not equality and now the president is on a national, worldwide podium, expressing to these people that being different is not okay, practicing prejudice is acceptable, and these people are now coming out of their segregated holes and now they’re feeling comfortable to protest without repercussions because they know that our president has their back, wrong or right.

MATT: Right, so now that you’ve done it, and people have been doing it in the NFL since Kaepernick started about a year ago, now you’ve been the first person to kneel during the anthem in the major leagues, do you think any other players are going to follow your example by the end of the season?

BRUCE: I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a couple of people in the MLB that end up doing it. Now I’m not going to talk to these people, I’m not going to force them to do it, it’s not my job, and I’m making a personal decision on personal problems that I have dealt with myself and with my family and friends of mine. I told my teammates the same thing, ‘I don’t expect you guys to understand, I don’t expect you to support me, I said I don’t want you guys to try to aid me when it comes to the media.’ I said you say what you truly feel, regardless if somebody disagrees with me or not because at the end of the day I’m always going to have respect for you guys as teammates.

MATT: Your teammate, Mark Canha, put his hand on your shoulder during all this, after you told your teammates you could do this all on your own and you didn’t need them to do this. How does it feel to you that Mark was able to make a big step forward to publicly support you like that?

BRUCE: Well you know what, for me it’s about the understanding of why I’m doing it. I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates being able to publicly believe and tell the media they support or respect what I’m doing because that makes me seem like they understand why I’m doing it, and for Mark to publicly tell the media that he supports me and what I’m doing when the reason I’m doing it is big for me because that means he’s taken everything physical out of context and he’s really trying to understand where I’m coming from and what the purpose of my kneeling is. So he’s supporting my reasoning, it doesn’t mean he’s supporting my personal decision to kneel, but he’s also supporting the fact that there is something when it comes to racial injustice- there is something wrong in this country and it should be fixed.

Read the full interview here