Colin Kaepernick made a bold move in 2016 when he decided to kneel during the anthem. Kaepernick was slowly blackballed by the league, but his actions drew attention to longstanding issues in the United States: police brutality and racism.
Kaepernick’s stance may not have sat well with the president at the time, Donald Trump, or millions of conservative fans, but it was a monumental stand.
His actions rose awareness, the first step in tackling such a issue. 5 years later, Derek Chauvin was convicted guilty of murdering George Floyd. While at the end of the day, this one arrest hasn’t ended these systemic flaws, it is a step in the right direction.
The actions of athletes like Kaepernick and LeBron James definitely made an impact on this verdict. Skip Bayless was quick to point that out as well.
All the powerful voices in sports, starting with LeBron James, had impact on that jury yesterday. And foremost, Colin Kaepernick. https://t.co/77P5ajyUrB
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 21, 2021
Why Did Colin Kaepernick Kneel? What Social Work Has Kaepernick Done & How It Impacted Derek Chauvin’s Verdict
Kaepernick kneeling during the 2016 season was to raise awareness about exactly what happened with George Floyd. 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.”
Racism and police brutality were the culprits of Floyd’s and countless other people who were murdered. Kaepernick wanted to take a stand as he believed these issues were bigger than football:
“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.”
Kaepernick’s actions turned a lot of faces, both positively and negatively. At the end of the day, his kneeling may have booted him out of the league, but for Kaepernick the fight for social justice was bigger. He quickly became the face for social activism in the NFL.
His $1 million pledge in October 2016 gave money to ten different organizations fighting violence, hate crimes, and racism in the United States. He also founded the Colin Kaepernick Know Your Rights Camp and has outline the following mission:
“Our mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
His work off the field has been tremendous. It’s easy to see why Skip Bayless acknowledged Kaepernick as being the biggest contributor to Chauvin’s verdict.
Instead of worrying about competing with NFL powers and sulking about how he was kicked out of the league, he took action. His efforts are commendable and should be looked at with high praise.
LeBron James & Other NBA Athletes Stood By Kaepernick
In the NBA world, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and several other athletes led the stance against police brutality. James has been an active voice for the fight against social justice for a long time, and his efforts have drawn attention everywhere.
James has pledged tuition to help students in Akron, he’s publicly displayed support against police brutality, sponsoring shirts that read “I can’t breathe”, and so much more. More than anything, he’s been a voice.
As a celebrity and an athlete, his voice matters as millions of people watch him and listen to what he says everyday. After being told to “shut up and dribble”, James didn’t back down. Chris Paul is another star player with the same characteristics about him.
He played a valuable role being the president of the NBPA, and during the NBA bubble, his work to ensure athletes were raising their voices and using their platforms was incredible. He said this during the bubble:
“I think that’s the coolest part about being together right now in these situations is that we can talk, and understand what’s going on in America right now, the different social injustices and ways that they can be active and the ways that they can let their voices be heard.”
Athletes like Paul, James, and Kaepernick pave the way for a brighter future. Change happens slowly, but with players like them, that process can happen faster.