From the pages of Workers World newspaper
Last October, Colin Kaepernick, the African-American former quarterback for National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, was asked after a game why he was wearing a Muhammad Ali t-shirt. He said, “To pay homage. [Ali] fought a very similar fight and was trying to do what’s right for the people. …
“He is someone who helped pave the way for this to happen. What he did and what he stood for, people remember him more for that than … as a boxer.
“I can’t let him die in vain. I have to be able to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal.” (nbcbayarea.com, Oct. 17)
The “similar fight” Kaepernick referred to is the ongoing struggle against racist oppression, especially police violence, which he protested by taking a knee during the national anthem at every 2016 regular season NFL game. Kaepernick remarked that he could not respect a flag of a country that did not respect the lives of Black people.READ MORE
After Kaepernick’s symbolic protest demanding justice for Black and Brown victims and survivors of police brutality made national and international head- lines, similar protests were carried out by teams and individual athletes in many sports on all levels— elementary, high school, college and professional.
Kaepernick paid homage to the Muhammad Ali who came to global promi- nence not only as the heavyweight boxing champion, but also as an activist who fought U.S. governmental repression against national liberation movements during the late 1960s. Ali was stripped of his boxing title and denied matches during his prime boxing years, 1967 to 1971, after he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military to fight in Vietnam. He refused because of his religious reliefs as a Muslim and his opposition to the war.
Although Kaepernick has gained millions of admirers, including NFL players from other teams, he has also been ostracized by right-wing politicians, NFL owners and coaches. Since his release from the 49ers following the 2016 season, he has not been signed by another NFL team.COLLAPSE