When the US withdraw from the Paris Agreement, America officially ceded its global leadership on climate change. To confront climate change, we must do everything in our power to tackle this pressing issue.
With 1 in every 4 adults having a criminal record and prison, jail and immigrant prison costs skyrocketing, mass incarceration has become mainstream. Today, there are more jails in the U.S. than colleges and universities.
Athletes for Impact Kneels in Solidarity with Colin Kaepernick
A vocal and necessary demonstration against injustice and in support of Black lives has erupted in the NFL and across the sports world—from the WNBA, to high school football teams, to German soccer players, and beyond. Following in the footsteps of Olympian Earlene Brown being vocal about civil rights and women’s rights in the 1960s to the legacy of Erosenna Robinson’s 1959 anthem protest to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf being suspended by the NBA in 1996 for refusing to participate in the national anthem, athletes have continued the tradition of athlete activism by sitting, taking a knee or raising a fist. Others have worn shirts declaring their solidarity against injustice and with victims of police violence. Amidst this unprecedented outpouring of athlete activism, there has been a concerted effort to dilute the message and distract the public from the original and clear intent of the movement—and from the sacrifices of the original messenger.
It is vital that we recognize the origins of this movement: First, by WNBA athletes and then by the courageous actions of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Last NFL season, Kaepernick made the decision to draw attention to police brutality and oppression by first sitting and then taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick was clear in live interviews and in writing about the intentions of his protest, stating time and time again the specific reasons for his demonstration, and that it was not intended to disrespect the military but start a national conversation and action around issues of injustice. Enduring slander and death threats, Kaepernick maintained his protest for the entire 2016 season. At the end of the 2016 season, his teammates voted him the recipient of the Len Eshmont Award by his 49ers teammates. The team’s website described the award as the 49ers, “most prestigious annual honor, has been given each year to the 49ers player who best exemplifies the ‘inspirational and courageous play’ of Len Eshmont.”
It is now clear that because of his courage and willingness to speak truth to power, Kaepernick has not been signed by any NFL team. As Seattle Seahawks star, Michael Bennett said of Kaepernick, “if you look at the quarterbacks in the NFL right now, out of the backups, I can’t name one better than him…” Legendary athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Tommy Smith and John Carlos were disparaged by many in their day for using their platform to speak out against racism and injustice. Today their statues stand proudly in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and they are widely celebrated as truth tellers ahead of their time. It is time we start celebrating our truth tellers from the start.
We support Kaepernick’s decision to exercise his first amendment right to protest and we call on all NFL owners, general managers and coaches with a positional need to summon the courage to sign Colin Kaepernick and to stand with us on the right side of history. No one should be denied employment for having the courage to follow their convictions and take action for equality and social justice.