Welcome to the first edition of the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profile. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, activist, and civil rights advocate, Colin Kaepernick.
Four years ago, Colin Kaepernick took a bold stand and risked his lucrative contract, public admiration, and his NFL career to stand up or better said, ‘kneel’ for the rights of oppressed people who don’t have a national platform.
There was plenty of backlash against Kaepernick for his peaceful protest. There also has tons of support for him as well, including a #VeteransForKaepernick hashtag trending on Twitter with thousands of veterans of all racial backgrounds joining in for their support of Kaepernick’s expression of his 1st amendment rights. This includes former Minnesota Governor, pro-wrestler, and Navy Seal, Jesse Ventura.
Colin Kaepernick had been sitting during the national anthem before the 49ers’ preseason games in the 2016 season. Still, no one noticed until San Francisco beat writer Jennifer Lee Chan captured the infamous photo that started it all.
Having garnered attention from former President Barack Obama, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and President Donald Trump, since he first kneeled, Kaepernick entered the new year, playing his final down in the NFL on Jan. 1, 2017.
Fast forward to 2020, and we are certainly not far removed from the impact of Kaepernick’s Aug. 26, 2016 protest. His protest continues to influence how athletes express their desire for change, and Kaepernick was not the last athlete to take a knee during the national anthem from that point on.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented time in our nation’s history, including the ongoing high-profile cases of the killings of Black Americans. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rasard Brooks, and, more recently, Jacob Blake, are at the center of conversations about unjust deaths and police brutality. These conversations have challenged the way we see America’s history of systemic oppression and racism.
With months of protests and demonstrations around the country, and the Black Lives Matter movement still captivating the nation, the upcoming NFL season is expected to bring themes of athletes being unwavering in their fight for social justice and change, as well as heighten opposition to any form of protest during the national anthem.
Here is Colin Kapernick in his own words:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he 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.“
Today we again honor Mr. Kaepernick as our very first “Evolved Man of the Week.”