Colin Rand Kaepernick: AfroAmerica Network Black Man of Year 2017

Colin Rand Kaepernick protesting racial injustice

Person of Year
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Colin Rand Kaepernick charitable initiatives have helped feed incarcerated men. His civil rights and social justice activism has won him worldwide recognition and multiple awards, including Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Colin Kaepernick's social justice stand came to national attention and world stage when in 2016 he began protesting racial injustice in the United States by not standing while the United States national anthem was being played before the start of NFL games. 

 By that action, he knew that he risked his career, along with several millions of dollars. When he took the knee, he started a movement that refocused national attention on the forgotten deaths of Black men, including Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Philando Castile.

When finally, after weeks, the media took notice, Colin Kaepernick explained that he chose to stand for truth by making a statement about inequality and social justice, about the ways the United Stated “oppresses black people and people of color.” He also made sure that the public understand that his aspirations are to see police officers, politicians and citizens work together to create a safer, fairer, more civil society where all citizens and people feel safe and welcomed and enjoy social justice.

Since his stand, Kaepernick’s search for truth has been used by politicians, extremists, and opportunists to suit their various objectives. He has been blacklisted by NFL and he has already lost a year of his NFL career and millions of dollars of income. But he remained true to what Muhammed Ali told Sports Illustrated on Feb. 19, 1968: “If I was walking down the highway with a quarter in my pocket and a briefcase full of truth, I’d be so happy.” Millions of people around the World have been awakened or encouraged by Kaepernik's stand. He, with a simple act, started a revolution.

Kaepernick was born in 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Heidi Russo, a 19-year-old White single mother and a Black man, who left Russo before Colin was born. Rick and Teresa Kaepernick adopted Colin and raised him along with their two other children. He played and excelled in football at the young age, becoming an excellent quarterback. He was also a perfect GPA student and a Basketball star.

Kaepernick played college football at the University of Nevada, where he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice and became the only player in NCAA Division I FBS history to amass 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career. After graduating, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Colin Kaepernick has a strong faith, which may explain why he stands firm in his beliefs for social justice and doing what is right, no matter what. For example, he explained how his faith in God guided his sports career: "My faith is the basis from where my game comes from. I've been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it. I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field. I think if you go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did."

Hence, Football was the center of his life, a life he felt OK to put at risk for truth. Colin Kaepernick is a humble man, with a straightforward aspiration: truth on social justice. Haters have tried to insinuate that by protesting injustice against Blacks and minorities, he betrayed his white parents.

This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right,” he told the media in 2016.

His actions have been embraced and emulated around the World by activists, sports players, teams, and leagues, athletes in the NFL, other American, European and international sports leagues.