In a candid interview with Paper Magazine, former San Francisco 49ers superstar Colin Kaepernick disclosed what sparked his activism against injustice, racism, and police brutality. According to the magazine, the caveat which ushered him further into activism was Mario Woods’ execution by officers in the San Francisco Police Department in 2015.
Before Kaepernick’s infamous protest by kneeling in 2016, he and his partner Nessa created a plan for his youth-based Know Your Rights Campaign almost a year prior. The mission of the campaign according to the website is “to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
The free-agent stated that Woods’ murder impelled him to take action. Mario Woods was 26-years old at the time of his death and was a suspect in a stabbing incident. He was shot 20 times, including six times in the back, by five police officers in San Francisco’s Bayview area department. Kaepernick revealed to Paper Magazine he felt “loss, pain, and anger.”
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Woods’ death sparked days of protests in the area, and the San Francisco Police Department was condemned after a cellphone video of the shooting was released to the public.
Kaepernick studied and reflected on the struggles of Black Americans in the United States. These factors fueled his affinity for activism. In his analysis, history appeared to be repeating itself continuously. He also fervently studied the history of the Black Panthers.
He divulged the ongoing plight of injustice against Black Americans in the interview, stating: “That was over 50 years ago. And what has changed?”
“Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice,” he said, recounting the names of Black people killed by police throughout the years. “Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray. The Panthers’ demands are still alive today because the police are still killing us today.”
Today marks the three year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression. I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement! The movement has always lived with the people! ✊🏾
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) August 14, 2019
Last Wednesday, Kaepernick posted a compelling video dedicated to his 3rd anniversary of being blackballed by the National Football League (NFL) for protesting police brutality and injustice. In August 2016, he gained national attention because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem before a game. His kneeling protest began on Sept. 1, with his teammate Eric Reid. The sentiment and protest spread like wildfire as other Black players in the league joined them.
Kaepernick hasn’t played football in the NFL since 2016. He and Reid filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion, and the two reached an agreement with the league in February 2019.