Are all greater powers in today’s social world going to keep quiet about racist acts of violence occuring frequently? A simple gesture made by San Francisco 49ers quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick caught the attention of sports fans across the world. This gave other athletes in all sports the courage to follow his footsteps and stand up for what they believe in. An action as great as Kaepernick’s speaks volumes to other american citizens because it makes them feel they have a voice that will be heard and can make a change in our country today. Colin Kaepernick was justified to kneel during the national anthem because he successfully called national attention to two major issues in society today, which are police brutality and social injustice.
Police brutality against minorities has lasted in our country for over a century. During this time period, events were taking place such as the murder of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown. All three of these African Americans who were wrongfully murdered were unarmed and showed no signs of threat towards the police officers. Sadly, these tragedies are far from the first in America. Back in 1965, an African American kid was shot and killed. This ended up causing the “Watts Riots”, which was a riot that lasted six days, was responsible for 4,000 people arrested, and 34 deaths. After Hattie Carroll, Emmett Till, and the Watts Riots, two people by the name of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed what was originally called the Black Panther Party for Self -Defense. This was an organization formed “to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality” (Duncan). They would rome the streets of Oakland waiting for a police officer to stop a black man, and once the officer would get out of his vehicle, the Black Panthers would get out of theirs also with big guns and stop any acts of police brutality from happening. Many African Americans started to like this party because it set apart the racist from non-racist whites, owned up to their own mistakes, and most importantly showed that blacks have power as well. The Black Panther Party gained national attention causing it to grow over 2,000 people and patrol multiple major cities across America. Since then, there has not been a nationwide group of organized people that truly stand up for what they believe in, leaving the next best thing to be one single man who bravely stands up for what he believes in. This man was the San Francisco 49ers’ star quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
All of these past events later led to Kaepernick’s courageous yet simple stand, or kneel for this matter, caught the attention of people all around the world and helped them better understand a major problem in society. By kneeling, he has drawn attention to police brutality and has voiced not only his own opinion, but the opinions of millions of others who do not have the same social platform as him. He is their voice, which is why he said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder” (Flaherty). He is saying that he does not want to stand for something that should be “the land of the free and the home of the brave” when not all citizens are treated equally and are being unfairly accused and murdered based off of the color of their skin.. He is justified to kneel because the drive behind him kneeling is to raise awareness for discrimination in a country that is supposed to be free.
Kaepernick has not only influenced the National Football League, but many other sports as well. After Kaepernick’s actions, other sports teams kneeled before games, and more riots started to break out nationally because of police brutality against blacks. One team that decided to make a statement was the Golden State Warriors. They went to the capital and celebrated equality and diversity. Kaepernick’s protest spread to baseball as well. An Oakland A’s catcher and the son of an army veteran, Bruce Maxwell decided he wanted to “take a stand by sitting”. He said “I was on the fence for a long time because I know no one in baseball has ever done it. I finally got to the point where I thought the inequality of man is being discussed, and it’s being practiced from our president” (Maxwell). Maxwell was not a bystander and expressed his opinions by kneeling. Many others joined in after him and created even more awareness and drew more attention to this issue. Which in fact is exactly what Kaepernick wanted to happen.
In conclusion, Kaepernick is justified to kneel because his intentions are to raise awareness for social injustice and to stand up against the police brutality that takes place in America against African American citizens. His protest is peaceful yet makes a huge statement and Kaepernick’s decision to kneel has given those who cannot speak up some hope. Thanks to this protest, many other protest type organizations and awareness groups have been created and Kaepernick’s message has been received and will hopefully continue to make a change.
Article by Matt Jenner and Video by Nico Gambetta
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Duncan, Garrett Albert. “Black Panther Party.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Dec. 2017.
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