Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, wore a “Kunta Kinte” shirt to his public workout outside of Atlanta on Saturday.
Kunta Kinte is the main character in the 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, by Alex Haley, which soon became a popular ABC miniseries called “Roots”. Kunta Kinte, played by LeVar Burton on the show, is a Black man kidnapped from Africa, taken to the United States and sold into slavery in the South. Kunta Kinte refused to adopt the American name that his owner gave him, and so he was beaten.
Kunta Kinte attempted to escape multiple times until his owners eventually cut off half of his foot to prevent him from trying to run away again.
Kaepernick wore the shirt to his own workout after turning down the NFL’s invitation to participate in its league-sponsored event Saturday because NFL officials did not want to make the practice public and did not want to allow Kaepernick to have his own film crew, Kaepernick’s representatives told reporters.
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“Our biggest thing with everything today was making sure we had transparency in what went on,” Kaepernick told reporters after the workout. “We weren’t getting that elsewhere. so we came out here.”
During his workout, Kaepernick eventually took off the Kunta Kinte shirt and traded it for a sleeveless Nike athletic shirt.
This is not the first time that Kaepernick has worn the Kunta Kinte shirt. He wore it in 2018 while on his way to a deposition in his collusion case against the NFL, according to a TMZ Sports photo.
The novel and TV show featuring Kunta Kinte have remained a part of pop culture. The miniseries is one of the most-watched TV dramas in American history and has been referenced in modern Black music, television and art.
Kendrick Lamar has a song called “King Kunta,” and Dave Chappelle has multiple skits that portray Kunta Kinte. The TV show “Family Guy,” the film “Coming to America,” the song “No Vaseline” by Ice Cube, the movie “Do the Right Thing” and the show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” among other songs, movies and shows make reference to Kunta Kinte.