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Who Is Kayla Morris? Details About The First NFL Cheerleader To Take A Knee During The National Anthem

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Who Is Kayla Morris? Details About The First NFL Cheerleader To Take A Knee During The National Anthem

Though Colin Kaepernick’s days with the San Francisco 49ers are over, his legacy lives on through others involved in the team. His kneeling protests caused controversy in Levi’s Stadium two years ago when he started the movement.

On Thursday, 49ers cheerleader Kayla Morris followed in his footsteps and took a knee during the national anthem before the game against the Oakland Raiders.

RELATED: Why The Backlash Over NFL Players 'Taking A Knee' In Protest Has Everything To Do With Racism

Photos of her kneeling went viral before she was identified two days later. The first was from Raiders fan Lenny Herold, who shared a picture from behind the end zone of two rows of cheerleaders, with Morris clearly visible in the back as the only one kneeling. As of November 5, the photo has over 11,000 retweets and 50,000 likes.

Morris has been cheering for the 49ers for two seasons, according to the 49ers’ official website. She is a native of Antioch, CA. Morris’s biography offers details about some of her favorite things: she loves the show Stranger Things, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Halloween, which took place the day before she protested. Her favorite song is “Skywalker” by Miguel and Travis Scott.

Unlike Kaepernick, Morris is not an employee of the team. She works for the entertainment company e2k.

Daily Mail spoke with Morris’s former teammate Kayla Rossell about Thursday night. “I think it’s an extremely brave and courageous thing to do … and I think it’s been met with love and respect from both the Gold Rush director as well as the team itself, just based on my past experiences there.” Rosell said. “If I were still cheering, I would support her 100% and am proud to call her a former teammate. I hope and pray the fans give her a similar level of love and support.”

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The 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan provided a brief, succinct comment about his feelings regarding Morris’s action: “I don’t know about the cheerleader who took a knee, and I don’t have a thought about that.”

The kneeling protests have caused a major stir in the NFL since Kaepernick was the first to do so during the 2016 preseason. He cited police brutality against African Americans as the reason behind his peaceful protest. Players on different teams, and even in different sports, have taken a knee during the anthem over the past two years. It has drawn criticism from people within the NFL, fans, and others — including president Donald Trump — as being an act of egregious disrespect towards the country, as well as an inappropriate time and place for protest.

In May, the NFL attempted to put a stop to the public protests by creating a fix which would require players to stand for the anthem or leave; if they knelt, they would be subject to fines. The NFL’s reaction, however, garnered criticism as well, as the peaceful protest is a form of self-expression. It also was not an official decision, as the NFL did not have an official vote on the matter, and the NFL Players’ Association was left out of the conversation. In July, the NFL put the decision on hold for negotiation.

Kaepernick no longer plays, but he has become a face of Nike’s latest ad campaign. As for Kayla Morris, for now, it looks as though she will continue cheering for the 49ers.

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Alison Cerri is an editorial intern at YourTango. When she's not writing, she can be found on a run or at rugby practice.