NOTE: This is an ongoing coverage of former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick and the events that followed his national anthem protest. Updated May 5th, 2018.
We told you so.
We’ve been following this story for over a year now and it was obvious even back then that this man would be considered a national hero.
As predicted, Colin Kaepernick has been honored Amnesty International’s most prestigious human rights accolade, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. The London-based non-governmental organization gives the award to individuals or groups who display exception courage against injustice. Amnesty International presented the award recently in Amsterdam.
Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said Kaepernick embodied the spirit of activism and exceptional courage. “He (Kaepernick) is an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick dedicated the award to victims of human rights violations across the world. “I would like to thank Amnesty International for the Ambassador of Conscience Award. But in truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force,” he said.
Here’s a short recap of the events that transpired following his famous protest during an NFL national anthem ceremony.
Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Protest Timeline of Events
Aug. 14, 2016
Kaepernick starts protest by sitting down during the national anthem.
Aug. 28, 2016
Kaepernick vows to continue the protest against oppression “of black people and people of color.”
Aug. 29, 2016
Then presidential candidate Donald Trump comments: “I think it’s (the protest) a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try.”
Sept. 1, 2016
Kaepernick kneels during the Star-Spangled Banner. Meanwhile, Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks became the first non-teammate to join Kaepernick in protest.
Sept. 7, 2016
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league supports players when “they want to see change in society” but stresses that “we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL.”
Sept. 13, 2016
In the regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem.
Sept. 21, 2016
Protests continue. The 49ers quarterback admits receiving death threats.
Sept. 29, 2016
Then President Barack Obama asks people with opposing views on the protest to listen to both sides.
March 3, 2017
Kaepernick ends 49ers contract.
March 24, 2017
Seahawks’ Richard Sherman thinks Kaepernick is being blackballed. NFL’s Goodell denies blackballing claims a few days later.
Sept. 23, 2017
President Donald Trump declares: refusal to sing the national anthem is “disrespect of our heritage.”
Sept. 24, 2017
NFL players respond to Trump’s comments by kneeling or opting to stay in locker rooms. Players from Washington linked arms.
April 21, 2018
Kaepernick wins Amnesty International’s highest honors, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.
This was Posted Nov. 17, 2017 and as an update we are reposting this.
With what’s happening with the NFL these days, you can definitely say that football won’t be the same again. Before, the main focus of the players is to play and win the game, no more, no less. Today, however, they are using their fame and influence to create conversations and bring attention to topics we as a nation are too hesitant to discuss. It’s all thanks to Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick gained nationwide attention last season when he refused to stand during the singing of the national anthem. Instead, the former San Francisco 49er has routinely chose to sit or kneel as the Star Spangled Banner played in protest of police brutality and the oppression of people of color. He said in a post-game interview last season that he would willingly sacrifice his career and continue such actions until he feels that the American flag “represents what it’s supposed to represent.”
Kaepernick’s protest is not without repercussions. Like athletes before him who have brought attention to racial inequality during a sporting event, he was widely criticized. He has also remained a free agent, despite a number of comically atrocious performances by other quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the new NFL season.
While there were criticisms, there were also a few of his fellow athletes who have voiced their support for Kaepernick and have also kneeled or remained in the locker room during the national anthem. However, this show of support wasn’t big enough to get everyone talking. Until President Donald Trump gave a fiery speech during an Alabama rally on Friday night, that is.
In a speech that seemingly came from nowhere,
Trump blasted protesting NFL players, calling them “sons of bitches” and commanding team owners to fire them if they refuse to show respect to the American flag. This created a ripple effect that bonded players (both white and athletes of color) with wealthy white team owners in a way nobody could have expected.
By the end of the weekend, players who have kept silent about racial issues stood before giant flags, either kneeling or linking arms in protest. Team owners who once lambasted their players for kneeling and potentially offending fans are now backing them up and scolding the president instead. Networks that have avoided showing such acts of protest had no choice but to show rows of players doing what Kaepernick and a few others after him did.
The dispute between Trump and US athletes over racial inequality and injustice has now gone beyond the NFL. LeBron James and Stephen Curry have gone on a Twitter war with Trump after the president withdrew Curry’s invitation to visit the White House on the popular social media site. Michael Jordan, who was said to avoid politics because “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” also criticized the president.
Kaepernick has succeeded and he has finally gotten people talking about a vital issue many of us willingly turn a blind eye on. He has used his status as an NFL player to take a stand against racial inequality and injustice and now, many athletes have followed his lead. This shows that Kaepernick indeed has the makings of a true national hero.
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