Colin Kaepernick just completed a goal he set out for himself a year and a half ago: making $1 million in donations to organizations he said would help oppressed communities.
The donations ended up going to groups that help individuals who are homeless, fight for prison reform, educational organizations, and helping at-risk families. Kaepernick’s donations even helped groups that foster stronger police-community relationships, which may come as a surprise to some of his biggest critics.
Kaepernick made the pledge in September 2016, when he was still an NFL quarterback playing for the San Francisco 49ers. He had just begun his silent protest that summer, explaining that, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
His controversial choice to kneel came after he had begun sitting during the anthem instead. After speaking with former NFL player and former Green Beret Nate Boyer, he decided that kneeling would show more respect for the men and women in the military — a notion that Boyer agreed with.
But many Americans took offense to Kaepernick’s choice to kneel — including President Donald Trump, who entered into a bitter Twitter rivalry with Kaepernick and other NFL players in 2017 about the issue. Trump called any player who kneeled a “son of a bitch” during a speech in September 2017, prompting many to question whether his motivations behind his verbal attacks had racial overtones.
Trump also may want to think twice about his comments that are critical of Kaepernick: Unlike the former NFL star, when Trump promises to give money to charitable causes, he has the unfortunate habit of forgetting about them completely.
You don’t necessarily have to agree with Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the anthem. But his choice has historic backing; Jackie Robinson, too, in his later years stated that he couldn’t bring himself to stand for the anthem as well. Kaepernick’s silent protest may seem disrespectful in many people’s eyes, but he still has the right to try to bring attention to an issue that’s important.
His charitable deeds in the time since beginning his protests are commendable, and they shouldn’t be scoffed at. Kaepernick puts his money where his mouth is, and in the process has helped thousands of Americans facing challenges across the country.