In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series “28 Black Stories in 28 Days.” We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the third installment of the series.
One of the first comments Colin Kaepernick made after his initial series of protests in 2016 was to Steve Wyche from the NFL Network.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “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.”
That comment, and his continued protests, launched a thousand hateful ships, as the right wing, and even a president, spent years attacking him.
In the end, however, what we knew then, and especially know now, is that Kaepernick wasn’t just right, he was prescient. What happened in the years that followed were numerous incidents of police brutality against Black and brown men.
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Kaepernick has long been a hero, but he’s in a totally different place than he was in 2016. He’s become one of the most vital civil rights figures of our time. If you think that’s an exaggeration, you haven’t been paying attention.
Kaepernick predicted all of this
Four years after Kaepernick started his protests, George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin.
Most recently, of course, came the horrific beating of Tyre Nichols, which led to Nichols’ death and five police officers being charged with murder.
Those are just two of the names. There were so many others.
Kaepernick knew that because of systemic racism, there would be more horrible incidents between Black citizens and the police. He was, of course, right.
That fact has been at the core of Kaepernick’s message throughout the years: injustice toward one group of Americans hurts us all.
“How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates ‘freedom and justice for all,’ ” he once said, “that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?”
Another Kaepernick project
Kaepernick is the executive producer for a new documentary on Hulu called “Killing County,” which is set to debut Feb. 3. It’s set in Bakersfield, California, which is the home district of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The documentary examines what the filmmakers say is an inordinate amount of police violence in Bakersfield.
With the documentary, Kaepernick is doing what he’s done for years, which is shine a light wherever it needs to go. He did that in 2016 by protesting. He was right.
And he’s been right again and again and again.
Story Credit: usatoday.com