PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — R&B singer Sevyn Streeter did not get the chance to sing the National Anthem before the Sixers’ home opener on Wednesday night. Instead, it was a backup; one of the Sixers’ dancers.
Sevyn said that the Sixers organization banned her from singing because of what she was wearing.
“Shame on the 76ers, period,” said Asa Khalif. He is the Pennsylvania Chapter president for Black Lives Matter and said he’s appalled about what he says is censorship.
“She did not have a Black Lives Matter shirt on,” he said. “She had a “we matter,” t-shirt and the 76ers took that as being associated with Black Lives Matter movement and for the most part, they’re a bunch of cowards and got rid of her.”
The Sixers organization released this statement:
“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.”
Sources tell Eyewitness News that Sevyn signed a contract saying she would not make any political statements at the game. Even still, entertainment law experts question the team’s decision.
“They’re shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun,” said Attorney Simon Rosen. He believes that Sevyn’s shirt was not inciteful and could even be interpreted in a non-political way.
“That type of shirt in this era to me can be a metaphor between the relationship between Sixers hierarchy and the people of Philadelphia,” Rosen said. His advice to the team is this: “I’d invite her back, I’d have her sing. Let her wear her shirt and you know move on and let’s win some games!”
Alan Tauber, a Civil Rights attorney and partner at Lindy and Tauber in Center City says the Sixers didn’t cross the line, from a legal perspective.
“The Constitution protects you from retaliation by the government, not protection against a private employer. They were well within their rights to do that, whether it was appropriate in the bigger picture is a different question.