Betsy Ross House Visitors Skeptical After Nike Pulls American Flag Shoe

July 02, 2019 - 1:01 pm
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(KYW Newsradio) -- Just days before Independence Day, Nike has shoe-horned itself into a controversy. The company canceled a shoe featuring the "Betsy Ross" flag, depicting 13 stars in a circle.

Sneaker-clad tourists visiting the Betsy Ross House in the historic district of Philadelphia shared their thoughts on the situation.

Visiting from Denver, Paul Danek happened to be wearing Nike sneakers and socks.

"I just thought it was ironic that we were visiting this weekend, and this whole new controversy blew up," Danek said.

Nike decided to recall the shoe from retailers after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained it was offensive because of the early American flag's links to a period of slavery.

"I think that people get offended by way too much stuff nowadays," Danek said. "It's our history. I honestly can't imagine why the lady who made one of our original American flags would be controversial at this point."

Danek calls the Betsy Ross flag patriotic. He says it should not be offensive to anyone, and Nike may have a financial incentive in mind.

"I don't think they're out there trying to make a political statement. They're trying to capitalize on some buzz," he said.

Blake, who is visiting Philadelphia with his wife from Buffalo, New York, thinks Nike should send the shoe to retailers.

"I don't think it's representative of slavery, at all. It's representative of the time period that we lived in, and the history of our country, at that time," he said.

John Perez, from Long Island says she was "just applying her trade as a seamstress, and supporting the American Revolution."

"They may be doing it to gin up money for the company, but it's a completely different issue from slavery," Perez said.

Lisa Acker Moulder, the director of the Betsy Ross House, near Third and Arch streets, didn't care to opine on Nike's move.

"We're not going to take a position on Nike pulling the shoe. Betsy Ross played an important role in the founding of our country. We're happy to share that, via the flag story," Acker Moulder said.

Ross stitched a flag with 13 red-and-white stripes and 13 six-pointed stars, representing the 13 original colonies. Acker Moulder says back in the 1770s, it was "strictly utilitarian, used as a military tool," to be used in battle to identify troops both at land and sea.

"As a woman, she didn't have all the freedoms that others were afforded. This was her contribution to the founding of our country," she said.