NFL players continued to kneelthis week during the national anthem, a protest that was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick over a year ago to protest racial inequality in the United States.

Last week, league Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo that "everyone should stand for the National Anthem" and Dallas Cowboys coach Jerry Jones threatened to bench players who joined. But Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price, who joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the protests, said players should be able to protest however they see fit.

"Why is it that some folks get to declare and define how people protest?" asked Price, a professorand Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

He said those who have criticized the kneelers as "un-American" fail to recognize that players are exercising one of their most fundamental rights under the Constitution when they kneel, and asking them not to is silencing their voices.

"This is how systemic oppression happens and systemic racism stays in place," Price said.

Monroe, a syndicated religion columnist, said critics of the protests have unfairly painted them as being disrespectful to the flag or to the armed services.

"What troubles me is that what was really a protest about the over-policing of young black men in America now has been morphed into something about denigrating the flag," Monroe said.

Click the audio player above to hear more from Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price.