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Colin Kaepernick's Lasting Impact On Protests And Activism In Sports

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Athletes Take a Knee.jpg
Damitry Pukalik
/
Wikimedia Commons
The protest started by Colin Kaepernick spread to other sports. Here soccer players from FC Krasnodar and Chelsea F.C. kneel in solidarity with the anti-racism movement during a match on October 28, 2020.

In a 2016 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback protested during the national anthem for the first time.

The athlete-turned-activist's decision prompted athletes around the country — and the world — to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Author Dave Zirin believes Kaepernick's "great gift" to the current political period is that "he offered up a language and a method of protest that others could replicate."

The impact reached much further than just the pros. Just days after Kaepernick's decision, high schooler Rodney Axson Jr. opted to kneel during his football game in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.

"For him, when he saw Colin Kaepernick take a knee," says Zirin, "it immediately clicked with him that this was something he could do to show people he was upset."

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.