In August of 2016, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his teammate, Eric Reid, made national headlines and sparked a revolutionary movement. Both players decided to take a knee at one of their pre-season games during the national anthem. According to Reid and Kaepernick, the act of kneeling during the anthem was in protest against police brutality and injustice.
Immediately following the incident, Kaepernick specifically faced great backlash, which eventually led to his departure from the 49ers team. Kaepernick has since continued his work as a civil rights activist and influencer. Many fans, athletes and celebrities have shown their support for the former NFL star.
It is important to note that Kaepernick wasn’t the only athlete to publicly support the Black community on sports grounds. Other athletes have made headlines for making strong political statements on the field. Before kneeling at sporting events became a controversial trend, two African American men famously raised their fists in the “Black Power” salute at the 1968 Olympics. John Carlos and Tommie Smith saluted the Black-led social movement during the national anthem, similar to Kaepernick’s protest. The bold act of these men was a symbol of solidarity for Black and oppressed people around the world.
This iconic moment was captured in a photograph which shows Smith, Carlos and Australian runner Peter Norman standing on a podium after the 200 meter race. Controversy surrounded track and field stars Carlos and Smith once the photo made national headlines. Norman was also under media scrutiny for standing alongside them on the podium. Though Norman didn’t salute the Black Power Movement, he fully supported Carlos and Smith’s protest. The three men suffered loss in their professional careers but gained support from the Black community for their efforts in promoting equality and justice.