The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are heading to Houston this Sunday for Super Bowl LI, which is shaping up to be a remarkable collision of politics and play.
Over the last week Houston has been transformed by protests against Trump. In addition to its barbecue and the Space Center, Houston is known globally for being a sanctuary for refugees from all over the world. No city in the United States is more welcoming, more open, and more willing to take in those fleeing war and famine. This is a city that earns its nickname, “The Big Heart,” every day. As the Houston Chronicle wrote, “Harris County alone welcomes about 30 of every 1,000 refugees that the UN resettles anywhere in the world—more than any other American city, and more than most other nations. If Houston were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for refugee resettlement.”
This explains why the protests against Trump’s #NoMuslimBan have been so fierce in H-Town, with hundreds of people packing George Bush Intercontinental Airport last Sunday. So many came to Terminal E to demonstrate that police had to shut the doors to non–ticket holders, who chanted and rallied outside. Earlier that day at Discovery Green, site of the nine-day Super Bowl Festival in downtown Houston, more than 1,000 people turned out to protest. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city as galvanized as this,” Houston resident Bev Caplan said to the Chronicle. This city of immigrants—20 percent of Houston was born outside the United States—will use the Super Bowl spotlight to stand up to Trump, with protests set to continue throughout the weekend.
The Nation spoke with Houston Stands With Standing Rock organizer Carlos Martinez who said, “We have two main events. On Saturday is our Houston Stands vs. Trump March from Houston City Hall to NFL Experience at Discovery Green and Sunday we will be at the gates making our presence felt and heard while we fly a banner in the air over the city and stadium…. We are here to stop Trumpism and show that Houston stands with Standing Rock, immigrants, women, black lives, Mexicans, Muslims, and the planet during Super Bowl LI.”