Colin Kaepernick made headlines in August when he first sat, then began taking a knee, during pregame performances of the national anthem. Now, his protest against racial oppression could find a more prominent place in U.S. history.
A jersey the then-San Francisco 49ers QB wore during the protest has been donated, along with other Kaepernick memorabilia, to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the latest attraction at the Smithsonian Institution.
The museum’s curator of sports, Damion Thomas, told USA Today Sports this week that the items could be rotated into exhibits within a year or two.
The materials were given to the museum by Harry Edwards, a sociologist and longtime 49ers adviser, USA Today Sports reported. He told the paper: “I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick. Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture ... And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ “
Shortly after beginning his protest, Kaepernick told NFL Media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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 in August also criticized then-presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. He said Clinton once referred to black teens as “superpredators” (Politifact.com reported she was speaking of “gangs of kids” but never specifically said black, though it could be reasonably inferred) and called Trump “openly racist.”
Trump fired back that Kap’s protest was “a terrible thing. And maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try. It won’t happen.”
Today, Kaepernick — who made Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2017 — remains unsigned. This week, though, Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said he is considering him and Robert Griffin III as candidates to back up Russell Wilson.