Three members of the Michigan State Spartans football team raised their right fists during the playing of the national anthem, as the team prepared to face the visiting Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night.

Sherrod had planned protest in advance

The three Spartans involved in the protest – safety Kenney Lyke, defensive end Gabe Sherrod, and running back Delton Williams – are all African-American, and raised their fists as their way of showing solidarity with several NFL players who have protested against racial inequality in recent weeks. This was reminiscent of the 'Black Power'fist-raising gestures of American track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal awarding ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

The protest was actually planned earlier in the week by Sherrod, who tweeted that it’s “time to represent (the fight against racial injustice and police violence against blacks) publicly.” He added in his tweet that even “privileged” black college students like himself are fearful and distrustful of law enforcement, given the recent police shootings of African-Americans.

The Michigan State football protest came just as Charlotte police officials released video footage of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man who was killed in a police confrontation on Tuesday. A few days before that, a Tulsa police officer shot and killed another African-American male, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was reportedly unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Colin Kaepernick protest has convinced more black athletes to take a stand

All this may not have been possible if not for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s much-publicized decision to remain seated for the national anthem. After sitting out the anthem in one preseason game last month, Kaepernick amended his protest, choosing to kneel instead in subsequent games.

Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has extended to other African-AmericanNFL playerssuch as the 49ers' Eric Reid and the Seattle Seahawks' Jeremy Lane.It's also extended toU.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe, a Caucasian, who similarly kneelsduring the pre-game national anthem.

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