What is Kaepernick’s role in Black History Month?

In celebration of Black History Month, Colin Kaepernick was included in the Wisconsin GOP Black History Month resolution. But, like many other unfortunate situations in the history of the fight for racial equality, this couldn’t have been done without a fight. With that being said, Wisconsin Republicans erased Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback, from any mention in their resolution recognizing leaders in Black History Month. Even the assembly majority leader Jim Steineke stated to reporters that Kaepernick was left out “for obvious reasons” later adding that Kaepernick is a controversial figure.

Hopefully, many realize that without these controversial figures, Black History Month could not even exist. Just look at the influential black leader Rosa Parks, who was controversial at the time for staying seated in the front rows of a Montgomery bus in 1955. What Rosa Parks did that day on the bus was illegal, but it was essential for the Civil Rights Movement to proceed. What Kaepernick did on the field by kneeling to the national anthem could be seen as controversial, but it definitely brought light to police brutality and racial inequality here in America. Even one of the most powerful black leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., once received allegations of being a communist.

The head of the FBI in 1963 even called him “the most dangerous to the nation from the standpoint of national security.” In contrast, today Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated for instrumentally helping African Americans secure their rights. This reinforces the trials and tribulations that black leaders today and in the past had to deal with. Their efforts to promote change were resisted with extreme consequences, such as injury or death. Fortunately for Kaepernick, Nike featured him in their new campaign with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The ad is simultaneously drawing praise and sparking backlash. Some people are so angry that they burned their Nike gear, while others go out and buy more in support of Nike. Whatever fans’ reactions are, Nike, like any other corporation, has the right to take a stand against injustice and inequalities. When it comes to student opinions on Kaepernick’s stance, Miles Pruitt (’19), says that he “is in complete support of Kaepernicks’ stance and believes that there are injustices that the American flag stands for. “This is a relevant topic to Hope because there is an issue of inequality, from racism to sexism, whether against women or LGBTQ+ students, that needs to continue to be discussed.” Pruitt also believes “that all students should have the same opportunities to be a part of the Hope community, and I want to be a part of the change.

I want everyone to be a part of this change, with me and I hope that through this, the Hope community will be the instrument. It is essential for us as Hope students to celebrate Black History that is happening today and in the past, because it pushes us further to reaching the equality that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of. It is our job as a community to take those steps toward racial harmony.”

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