Category Archives: Free Speech

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

Happy birthday to the blacklisted activist
Born November 3, 1987

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

August 2016

August 14 & August 20, 2016: injured San Francisico 49er quarterback Kaepernick goes unnoticed while sitting during the anthem. Kaepernick wasn’t in uniform and didn’t play during these first two games.

August 26, 2016: Kaepernick gained attention for his protest. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said.

August 28, 2016: Kaepernick met with the media two days after the game and for the first time since the protest gained national attention. He reiterated that he was acting to give a voice to people who didn’t have one.

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

September 2016

September 1, 2016: Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem and teammate Eric Reid joined him. This was the first time during his protest, Kaepernick wasn’t alone.

Also, Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks sits during the national anthem

Lane became the first non-teammate to join Kaepernick in protest. He sat on the bench prior to the national anthem in Oakland, just minutes after Kaepernick and Reid took a knee during the anthem in San Diego.

“I wasn’t trying to say anything. Just standing behind Kaepernick,” Lane said following the game. He added that he would keep doing it until he felt like justice was served. (FS & CK, see Sept 4)

September 4, 2016: National Women’s Soccer League Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick. Before the NWSL match between the Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars, Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem, while the rest of her teammates remained standing. She expressed solidarity with Kaepernick, saying that, as a gay American, she knows “what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” and that “it’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.” (FS & CK, see Sept 9)

September 9, 2016: Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee during the national anthem at the NFL regular season opener.

Marshall became the first player to take a knee or sit during the anthem prior to a regular season game. He was a college teammate of Kaepernick at the University of Nevada. Like Kaepernick, Marshall said it was about social change.

“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America,” Marshall said, according to the Denver Post. “I’m against social injustice.

September 11, 2016: NFL Seahawks, Dolphins, Chiefs and Patriots players demonstrated during nation anthem

The first Sunday of the NFL season took place on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. This made the national anthem ceremonies on that day particularly emotional. Four Dolphins players — running back Arian Foster, safety Michael Thomas, wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Jelani Jenkins — took a knee during the anthem after standing up for a 9/11 acknowledgment.

After the game, Foster explained that he loves the country and the rights it affords him. He later tweeted “don’t let the love for a symbol overrule the love for your fellow human.”

No Seahawks players took a knee during the anthem, but the entire team did link arms as a way of honoring the flag and continuing the conversation that Kaepernick started.

The Kansas Chiefs locked arms before kickoff of their game with the San Diego Chargers. Cornerback Marcus Peters held up a fist, saying he supported Kaepernick’s efforts to raise awareness to the justice system.

Prior to Sunday Night Football, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty also raised their fists after the national anthem.

September 12, 2016: Eric Reid kneels alongside Colin Kaepernick. 49ers teammates and Rams players raise their fists

Kaepernick maintained his protest, and was joined by several players set to take the field before Monday Night Football. As expected, safety Eric Reid knelt next to the quarterback during the national anthem, just as he did during the last week of the preseason. 49ers linebacker Eli Harold and safety Antoine Bethea stood, but with their fists raised in the air.

The 49ers players were joined by their opponents. Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (No. 94) and wide receiver Kenny Britt (No. 18) also stood with their fists in the air.

September 16, 2016: all of Garfield High School’s (Seattle) football players and coaches kneel during the national anthem.

Joined by a few players from the West Seattle Wildcats, Garfield High School’s football players and coaches kneeled during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which head coach Joey Thomas said would continue for the rest of the season. Speaking with the Seattle Times, Thomas was candid about racial injustice and the team being compelled to protest the anthem, especially after players learned about the song’s racist third verse.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

September 16, 2016: twelve high school football players from Laguna Creek High School in Sacramento took a knee during the national anthem

According to the Sacramento Bee, a number of parents reportedly told the players to “stand up.” The Elk Grove School District announced in a statement that it would not discipline the students, saying that although it supports standing for the national anthem, it “respects and supports our students’ individual experiences and their right to exercise their freedom of speech and expression protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

September 17, 2016: Howard University (Washington, DC) cheerleaders knelt during the national anthem

Before Howard took on Hampton University at the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic, Howard University’s cheerleaders took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Howard’s players did not kneel, but raised their fists instead. (FS & CK, see Sept 18)

September 18, 2016: more San Francisco 49ers joined Kaepernick, Dolphins continued protest

Kaepernick’s teammates Antoine Bethea, Eli Harold, Jaquiski Tartt and Rashard Robinson joined in protesting during the national anthem by raising their right fists ahead of San Francisco’s game vs. the Carolina Panthers.

Meanwhile in Foxboro three of the same Miami Dolphins players continued their protest. Arian Foster, safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills all kneeled during the anthem. (FS & CK, see Sept 19)

September 19, 2016: four Philadelphia Eagles raised their fists during the anthem

Prior to the game, Malcolm Jenkins said the Eagles would protest during the anthem. Jenkins was joined by Steven Means, Ron Brooks and Marcus Smith in raising a fist while standing during the anthem. (FS & CK, see Sept 20)

September 20, 2016: in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice, several members of Oakland Unified School District’s Honor Band took a knee while playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It happened toward the end of the song.

Band director Zack Pitt-Smith said he didn’t know until rehearsal that the band was going to kneel, saying that the idea originally came from a few students and eventually spread around. John Sasaki, a spokesperson for the school district, stated that the organization was “proud” of its students for making the decision to kneel:

“They knew that this was a controversial issue across our nation, and yet they decided to go ahead with their protest knowing it would not be well-received by some Americans.”

That evening, during his appearance on Conan, Marshawn Lynch was asked about his thoughts on Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Lynch said he’d rather see Kaepernick “take a knee than stand up, put his hands up, and get murdered.”

September 21, 2016: Cleveland Cavaliers player Iman Shumpert announced he would raise money for families impacted by police fatalities

On his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Shumpert announced that, for every steal he makes during the 2016-17 NBA season, he will donate money to organizations that aim to “improve the struggle between the badge and the citizen.” While showing support for Kaepernick, he also noted that he would not be kneeling during the national anthem, despite originally hinting at it in a song he released on Sept. 16 titled “His Story,” saying “I no longer believe taking a knee is the answer.”

September 21, 2016: in the Women’s National Basketball Association, the entire Indiana Fever team and two Phoenix Mercury players knelt during the national anthem

Before the first game of the WNBA playoffs, every player on the Indiana Fever locked arms and kneeled during the national anthem, while the Mercury’s Kelsey Bone and Mistie Bass joined them on the other side. Afterward, Fever coach Stephanie White told her team that she was “proud of y’all for doing that together.”

September 22 Peace Love Art Activism

September 22, 2016: Time magazine featured Colin Kaepernick on its cover in its October 3 issue.

It featured Kaepernick kneeling in his full 49ers uniform. The issue included a cover story from Sean Gregory, where Kaepernick’s protest was a centerpiece in a larger conversation among athletes regarding sports activism and patriotism.

Also on September 22, Houston Texan’s Duane Brown raised a fist while standing during the national anthem

Brown didn’t play due to an injury, but did participate in the protest for the first time that season. He had been vocal about recent police shootings.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

October/November 2016

October 1, 2016: in college football, before East Carolina took on the University of Central Florida, a few members of ECU’s band took a knee during the national anthem. People in the crowd noticed, and the response was split between students and alum.

When it came time for the band to perform at halftime, there were many boos directed at them.

ECU chancellor Cecil Staton issued a statement shortly after, saying that the school “respects the rights of our students, staff and faculty to express their personal views.” (see FS & CK, see Oct 4)

October 4, 2016: NBA’s  Rockets and Knicks opened the season joined arm in arm The Celtics also showed unity as a team, standing together with their arms crossed and heads down.

November 6, 2016: Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall decided to stand during the anthem again. Before the Broncos’ Sunday Night Football matchup against the Raiders, Marshall explained in an Instagram post why he would no longer kneel during the national anthem.

I’m encouraged with the many productive discussions and progress that has taken place as the Denver Police department has decided to review its use of force policy, ” Marshall wrote. “I’m proud to have joined so many of my peers throughout sports who’ve also made their own statements.”

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

2017

March 1, 2017: the San Francisco 49ers announced that quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted out of the final season of his contract with the organization in order to become an unrestricted free agent.

August 12, 2017: in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch knelt after coming out of retirement. Lynch retired during the 2016 season, but returned to join the Oakland Raiders in the offseason. While he didn’t play in the team’s preseason opener, he made his thoughts on the last year’s events regarding Kaepernick clear by taking a sit on the bench during the playing of the National Anthem.

August 13, 2017: NFL Michael Bennett remained seated during the national anthem. The outspoken Bennett had expressed support for Kaepernick in the past, and as the Seahawks faced the Chargers in preseason action, he remained seated for the national anthem.

September 24, 2017: President Trump called for football fans to boycott N.F.L. games unless the league fired or suspended players who refused to stand for the national anthem, saying that players must “stop disrespecting our flag and country.”

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our country, you will see change take place fast,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

October 2017

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

October 13, 2017: in an unusual and public call to arms, Russell Okung, a Los Angeles Chargers lineman, posted a letter on The Players’ Tribune urging the league’s 1,700 players to take a unified stand against pressure from N.F.L. team owners to curb demonstrations during the national anthem before games.

“We can either wait until we receive our respective marching orders, speak up individually, or find a way to collaborate, and exercise our agency as the lifeblood of the league,” Okung, wrote.

Okung’s nearly 900-word manifesto took N.F.L. owners to task for making decisions on anthem demonstrations, which had typically involved players kneeling or sitting during the anthem, without broadly consulting players. The demonstrations were originally intended to draw attention to racial inequality and police shootings of African-Americans.

October 15, 2017:  Kaepernick, who remained unemployed after the 2016 season in which he began the movement of players protesting during the national anthem, filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of improperly colluding to keep him out of the league.

Kaepernick reportedly retained an attorney to pursue the collusion claim and it will be Kaepernick’s outside legal representation and not the NFL Players Association primarily in charge of preparing and presenting his grievance.

The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league and the players’ union prohibits teams from conspiring to make decisions about signing a player. but the CBA also said the mere fact that a player was unsigned and evidence about the player’s qualifications to be on an NFL roster do not constitute proof of collusion.

October 16, 2017: President Trump reiterated that he wanted the National Football League to suspend players if they knelt during the pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” saying the players were disrespecting the country.

October 17, 2017: National Football League officials announced that they would not seek commitments from its players to stop kneeling during pregame renditions of the U.S. national anthem.

“We spent today talking about the issues that our players have been trying to bring attention to. About issues in our communities to make our communities better,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters.

October 18, 2017: at the next day of the NFL meetings, NFL Houston Texan owner Robert McNair, in response to some players supporting Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling in 2016 with their own associated protests, said, ” “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,”

NFL executive Troy Vincent, a former player, later stood up and said he was offended by McNair’s characterization of the players as “inmates.” Vincent said that in all his years of playing in the NFL — during which, he said, he had been called every name in the book, including the N-word — he never felt like an “inmate.”

October 29, 2017: about 40 members of the Houston Texans knelt during the national anthem in protest of their team owner Robert McNair’s “inmates running the prison” remarks.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

November /December 2017

November 1, 2017: Papa John’s Founder and CEO John Schnatter claimed that the NFL kneeling protests were costing the company lots of money. Papa John’s had been an official NFL sponsor since 2010, but has seen its stock drop 24 percent in 2017

Schnatter  blamed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Schnatter said, ““The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction … The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

November 14, 2017: Pizza chain Papa John’s apologized for its CEO John Schnatter’s claim that protesting National Football League players had hurting profits.

On its official Twitter account Papa John’s  “sincerely” apologized “to anyone that thought they [Schnatter’s remarks] were divisive.” “That definitely was not our intention,” the company added.

Schnatter’s remarks also led to the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer to endorse Papa John’s as the official pizza of the self-proclaimed alt-right — an accolade the company rejected.

November 20, 2017:  President Donald Trump’s attack on black athletes continued as he tweeted criticizism of Oakland Raiders player Marshawn Lynch for sitting during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and then standing for Mexico’s national anthem. The Raiders were playing the New England Patriots in Mexico.

Trump’s tweet read in part: “Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.

November 23, 2017: Kaepernick went to Alcatraz Island to join Native Americans protesting the genocide they said  Thanksgiving Day represents to them.

Kaepernick made the surprise visit to the site of the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary to join indigenous people who occupied the island off the coast of San Francisco between 1969 and 1971. There has been an annual sunrise gathering on the island since the takeover of Alcatraz to highlight the deadly, destructive impact on indigenous people of the arrival in America of European colonizers.

He received two eagle feathers from a Native American elder before delivering a brief speech at the UnThanksgiving Day event.“I’m very humbled to share this space with all of you,” he said. “Our fight is the same fight. We’re all fighting for our justice, for our freedom. And realizing that we’re in this fight together makes us all the more powerful.”

December 3, 2017: the ACLU of Southern California presented the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award to Colin Kaepernick.

Our next honoree took a stand. He took a stand knowing he would risk his job,” Southern California ACLU Executive Director Hector Villagra said. “And he has lost his job, one that he loved and was supremely talented and skilled at. He took a stand knowing that some would criticize him, and he has been viciously and unfairly criticized. He has been called a traitor, because too many people in this country confuse dissent for disloyalty. He took a stand knowing some would even threaten him, and he has had his life threatened, which is why, though we are profoundly honored to have him here, we didn’t publicize his presence tonight.”

Kaepernick raised a fist as he received a standing ovation.

December 4, 2017: Time magazine announced that Colin Kaepernick was a finalist for their Person of the Year award.

December 5, 2017: Kaepernick received the the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. According to its site, “The Legacy Award was created in 2008 to honor former athletes and sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world.”

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

2018

January 23, 2018: Colin Kaepernick was named a finalist for an award honoring players for their community service work.

Kaepernick and four other players were announced as finalists for the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award.

April 21, 2018: human rights organization Amnesty International  honored former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with its Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, lauding his peaceful protests against racial inequality. The former San Francisco 49ers star was handed the award at a ceremony in Amsterdam by onetime teammate Eric Reid.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick “an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination.”

May 23, 2018: the National Football League’s 32 owners decided to overhaul N.F.L. policy on protocol for the national anthem. At their two-day meeting in Atlanta, the owners said that the league would allow players to stay in the locker room during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but said that teams would be fined if players “do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

Those teams can then punish players however they see fit.

July 10, 2018: the NFL players union filed a grievance over the league’s new requirement that players stand for the national anthem or wait in their dressing rooms, a policy that followed President Donald Trump’s denunciation of pregame protests.

The National Football League said on May 23 it would require any player who did not wish to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games to stay off the field until the ceremony ended.

Before the league announced the new policy, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) had offered to discuss other ways to defuse tensions over the protests, which were prompted by a series of police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri, New York and other cities.

“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,” the NFLPA said.

July 19, 2018: hours after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued, the NFL and the players union issued a joint statement saying the two sides were talking things out.

The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing,”

August 30, 2018: arbitrator Stephen Burbank decided that NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick’s grievance alleging the league’s owners colluded to keep him out can go to trial.

September 3, 2018: Colin Kaepernick signed a new,  multiyear deal with Nike that made him a face of the 30th anniversary of the sports apparel company’s “Just Do It” campaign. The campaign featured his image with the words, “”Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” over the image.

Nike would produce new Kaepernick apparel, including a shoe and a T-shirt.

Nike would also donate money to Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” campaign.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/rihanna-super-bowl-halftime-show-colin-kaepernick-744650/

October 17, 2018: NFL owners announced that their national anthem conduct policy was no longer in effect.

Team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell signaled that message at the exit of the NFL’s annual fall meetings in New York when all the power brokers passed on revisiting punishment for forms of social protest by players. The league’s anthem conduct policy had been suspenced by team owners last July and hadn’t been brought back to the table since, despite a handful of players continuing to protest social and racial inequalities during the pregame ceremony.

After the NFL’s broadcast partners stopped showing the anthem on television and political rhetoric around the issue died down, the league passed on revisiting forms of punishment in what was billed as a meeting where any changes (if at all) could be made.

October 25, 2018: on line sales of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick t-shirt sold out in 7 hours.

November 1, 2018: Kayla Morris, of Antioch, California and a member of Gold Rush, the San Francisco 49ers cheerleader,  appeared to take a knee during the national anthem. It was the first time that an NFL cheerleader had done so.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

2019

February 15, 2019: Colin Kaepernick reached a settlement over his collusion grievance against the National Football Leage. His attorneys, Mark Geragos, and Ben Meiselas and the NFL released a joint statement announcing that a settlement had been reached by the league and the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, who filed a similar grievance.

February 27, 2019:  WINK TV reported that Charlotte County School District school authorities forced Alissa Perry, a Port Charlotte High School teacher, to take down a Black History Month poster she made because it featured former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Thank you all for participating in this,” said Perry.

Perry made a poster to celebrate Kaepernick for Black History Month, but the poster stirred up a different type of emotion in a lot of parents.

The District said the front office was getting too many phone calls asking for the poster to be taken down, but students said the school district cracked under pressure.

October 10, 2019: Trump supporters tossed 23-year-old Saul Eugene out of a Trump rally in Minneapolis. Eugene had worn a Colin Kaepernick shirt to a He also called th N- word. Eugene is white.

November 12, 2019: according to a copy of a memo to the league’s 32 teams that was reviewed by The New York Times, the NFL invited Colin Kaepernick to work out for teams on November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons’ facility so they could evaluate whether to sign him.

“Earlier this year, we discussed some possible steps with his representatives, and they recently emphasized his level of preparation and that he is ready to work out for clubs and be interviewed by them,” the memo said. “We have therefore arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his N.F.L. career.”

Workout moved

November 16, 2019: 30 minutes before its scheduled start, Colin Kaepernick changed the location of his planned NFL workout, moving the event to Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia, roughly 60 miles away. In a statement after the workout, the free agent quarterback slammed the NFL for a lack of transparency.

Kaepernick’s agent Jeff Nalley told reporters that representatives from eight teams attended the event.

The NFL responded with a statement saying they are “disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout.” According to the NFL’s statement, 25 teams had sent representatives to the original location. [CBS News article]

November 23, 2019: ESPN reported that in the week after Colin Kaepernick worked out for seven NFL teams at Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia, no teams reached out to work him out, visit with him or sign him

Kaepernick’s representatives also sent video of their client’s workout to the 25 NFL teams that did not attebd, but that did not led to any interest, either.

No Response

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

November 23, 2019: ESPN reported that in the week after Colin Kaepernick worked out for seven NFL teams at Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia, no teams reached out to work him out, visit with him or sign him

Kaepernick’s representatives also sent video of their client’s workout to the 25 NFL teams that did not attend, but that did not led to any interest, either.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

Successful shoe release

December 23, 2019: Nike’s new Colin Kaepernick “True to 7” shoe  sold out on the first day of its North American release, according to the company’s website.

“This Air Force 1 season, Nike partnered with a collective of collaborators to design an AF1 that connects to their life personally. Colin was identified because we believe his voice and perspective inspire many generations on and off the field,” said a Nike spokesperson in an email.

The $110 black-and-white shoe sports an embroidered portrait of Kaepernick on the heel tab, reflective Swoosh and his personal logo on the tongue. [CNBC article]

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

2020

Drew Brees

June 3, 2020: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in an interview that he would never agree with N.F.L. players who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality, and he was immediately condemned.

Drew Brees walks back

June 4, 2020: a host of players, including some of Drew Brees’s teammates, responded with statements of their own, calling Brees’s comments hurtful and criticizing him for ignorance of or callousness to the struggles of African-Americans.

“Drew Brees, you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are,” Malcolm Jenkins, Brees’s teammate, said in a video posted to Twitter. “I’m disappointed, I’m hurt, because while the world tells you, ‘You are not worthy,’ that your life doesn’t matter, the last place you want to hear it from are the guys you go to war with and that you consider to be your allies and your friends.

“Even though we are teammates, I can’t let this slide.”

Later that day, Brees walked back his position in a post on Instagram, saying his earlier comments were “insensitive and completely missed the mark.” Brees also asked for forgiveness and said that he took full responsibility for his words.

“I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening … and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen,” he wrote.

President Trump, who had praised Bree’s first comment, criticized Bree’s retraction.[NYT article]

Roger Goodell support

June 5, 2020: though not mentioning Colin Kaepernick by name,  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, issued his strongest support yet for the players seeking to fight racism and police brutality.

In a swift response to a video montage featuring star players asking the league to address systemic racism, Goodell said he apologized for not listening to the concerns of African-American players earlier and said he supports the players’ right to protest peacefully.

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

Docuseries

July 6, 2020: Colin Kaepernick’s production arm, Ra Vision Media, and Disney announced that Colin Kaepernick would be featured in an exclusive docuseries produced by ESPN Films as part of a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Co

The partnership would focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity. It also will provide a platform to showcase the work of minority directors and producers.

“I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” Kaepernick said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.” [ESPN article]

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted

#StillReady

November 23, 2020: for the first time in the National Football League’s history, the seven-man crew officiating the Monday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were Black.

However, on the same day the Colin Kaepernick tweeted out a video of himself training with former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid, along with the caption: “1,363 days of being denied employment. Still putting in work with @E_Reid35 Still going hard 5 days a week. #StillReady #StopRunning.” [CNN story]

Activist Colin Kaepernick Blacklisted
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United States Pledge Allegiance

United States Pledge Allegiance

United States Pledge Allegiance

Divided Allegiances

At at time when whether the choice of kneeling or standing has come under Presidential scrutiny, it is a good idea to look back at our Pledge of Allegiance’s history.

It might seem that we’ve always had one, but like most social icons,  the United States had no allegiance to the flag for more than a century and we’ve only had a government sanctioned one for less than a century.

Here’s some of that timeline.

United States Pledge Allegiance

19th century genesis

October 12, 1892: during Columbus Day observances organized to coincide with the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, the pledge of allegiance was recited for the first time.

Francis Bellamy [Smithsonian article], a Christian Socialist, had initiated the movement for such a statement and having flags in all classrooms. His pledge was: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

United States Pledge Allegiance

United States Pledge Allegiance

An adjustment

In 1923: the  called for the words “my Flag” to be changed to “the Flag of the United States,” so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the United States. The words “of America” were added a year later.

United States Pledge Allegiance

Patriotism on display

May 3, 1937: as the rest of the world headed toward World War II, a patriot fervor swept the U.S., as it had before, during and after World War I.

Walter Gobitas

United States Pledge Allegiance

One expression of that movement involved state laws requiring public school students to salute the flag each morning. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, regarded saluting the flag as an expression of a commitment to a secular authority and unfaithfulness to God.

As a result, some families had their children refuse to participate in the compulsory salute. On this day, Walter Gobitas (the family name was misspelled in the court case) sued the Minersville, Pennsylvania, School Board, in a case that ended up in the Supreme Court:  Minersville School District v. Gobitis.

June 3, 1940: Minersville School District v. Gobitis, was a decision by the US Supreme Court involving the religious rights of public school students under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

The Court ruled that public schools could compel students—in this case, Jehovah’s Witnesses—to salute the American Flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance despite the students’ religious objections to these practices. (Oyez article)

United States Pledge Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance official

United States Pledge Allegiance

June 22, 1942:  the US Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time [Gilder Lehrman Institute article] , in the following form: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted salutes which were similar in form, resulting in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States.

December 22, 1942: Congress amended the Flag code to replace the Bellamy salute with the the hand-over-heart salute. The Bellamy salute  had been the salute described by Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored.

United States Pledge Allegiance

FREE SPEECH?

June 14, 1943: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,  the US Supreme Court held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. It was a significant court victory won by Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religion forbade them from saluting or pledging to symbols, including symbols of political institutions. However, the Court did not address the effect the compelled salutation and recital ruling had upon their particular religious beliefs, but instead ruled that the state did not have the power to compel speech in that manner for anyone.

Barnette overruled the June 3, 1940 decision (Minersville School District v. Gobitis) which also involved the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Oyez article)

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“under God”

February 12, 1948:  Louis A. Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, was the first to initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge. He was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, Lincoln’s Birthday, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, “under God.”

He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech as delivered do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”

United States Pledge Allegiance
Knights of Columbus

April 30, 1951: the Knights of Columbus [site], the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, had begun to include the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. On this date in New York City the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors adopted a resolution to amend the text of their Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation.”

Over the next two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide.

August 21, 1952: the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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President Eisenhower baptized

February 1, 1953: President Eisenhower was baptized, confirmed, and became a communicant in the Presbyterian church in a single ceremony.

United States Pledge Allegiance
George MacPherson Docherty

United States Pledge Allegiance

It had become a tradition that some American presidents  honored Lincoln’s birthday by attending services at the church Lincoln attended in Washington, DC, [the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church] and sitting in Lincoln’s pew on the Sunday nearest February 12.

On February 7, 1954, with President Eisenhower sitting in Lincoln’s pew, the church’s pastor, George MacPherson Docherty [Washington Post obit], delivered a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address titled “A New Birth of Freedom.”

He argued that the nation’s might lay not in arms but its spirit and higher purpose. He noted that the Pledge’s sentiments could be those of any nation, that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” He cited Lincoln’s words “under God” as defining words that set the United States apart from other nations.

President Eisenhower, baptized a Presbyterian the previous  February, responded enthusiastically to Docherty in a conversation following the service. (Christian Perspective article on Eisenhower)

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“under God” gets Presidential support

February 8, 1954: Eisenhower acted on Rev Doucherty’s suggestion and Rep. Charles Oakman (R-Mich.), introduced a bill to that effect.

United States Pledge Allegiance

June 14, 1954: President Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day, stating, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. … In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

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Stay or leave

March 4, 1969: the New York City Corporation Council upheld the petition of Dorothy Lynn, a 17-year-old Queens, NY high school student to leave her classroom during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lynn said that she did not believe in God or that everyone was granted liberty and justice. (NYT article)

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Sit or stand?

United States Pledge Allegiance

October 31, 1969:  Mary Frain and Susan Keller, two 12-year-old 7th grade girls in Brooklyn went to court  to assert their right to remain seated in class while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Referring to the Vietnam War, one of the students  said she refused to recite the pledge because she doesn’t believe that “the actions of this country at this time warrant my respect.

The school had suspended the seventh graders four weeks earlier in what the school board’s attorney described as a simple matter of school discipline and not one of First Amendment law. Allowing the girls to remain seated, he claimed, would be “disruptive.”

New York Civil Liberties Union lawyers represented the girls. The NYCLU cited the Supreme Court case of West Virginia v. Barnette, decided of June 14, 1943, in which the Court upheld the right of Jehovah’s Witness’s children not to salute the American flag as required by their school.

On December 10, Judge Orrin G Judd, enjoined the city school system from telling student that they must leave the classrooms if they do not want to stand and recite the Pledge.

Judd said the students had a constitutinal right to remain seated until the school could prove that by sitting through the Pledge the students had “materially infringed” the rights of other students or had caused disruption. (NYT article)

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New Jersey

August 16, 1977: a Federal District Court overturned a New Jersey state law requiring all public school students in New Jersey to at least stand at attention during the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. [NYT article]

Judge H. Curtis Meanor ruled that the standing mandated by the State Education Law illegally compelled “symbolic speech” and violated students’ First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and speech.

The New Jersey statute stipulated that the pledge be recited and a flag salute rendered by all children in public schools, except for the children of foreign diplomats or for youngsters with “conscientious scruples” against the acts.

But the law required that the exempt pupils “be required to show full respect to the flag while the pledge is being given merely by standing at attention.” Judge Meanor objected to the “mandatory language” of that section of the law.

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Under or not under God?

June 27, 2002: a federal appeals court declared that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because the phrase ”one nation under God” violated the separation of church and state. [NY Times article]

A three-member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the pledge, as it exists in federal law, could not be recited in schools because it violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against a state endorsement of religion. In addition, the ruling turned on the phrase ”under God” which Congress added in 1954 to one of the most hallowed patriotic traditions in the nation.

From a constitutional standpoint, those two words, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote in the 2-to-1 decision, were just as objectionable as a statement that ”we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.’

August 9, 2002: the U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the Newdow vs. U.S. Congress case in which the court struck down the addition of the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional.

February 28, 2003: the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the addition of “under God” to the The Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, refused to reconsider its ruling, saying it would be wrong to allow public outrage to influence its decisions.

March 4, 2003: the US Senate voted 94-0 that it “strongly” disapproved of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision not to reconsider its ruling that the addition of the phase “under God” to the The Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.

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Bush administration appeal

April 30, 2003: the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court to preserve the phrase “under God” in the The Pledge of Allegiance recited by school children. Solicitor General Theodore Olson said that “Whatever else the (Constitution’s) establishment clause may prohibit, this court’s precedents make clear that it does not forbid the government from officially acknowledging the religious heritage, foundation and character of this nation,” and that the Court could strike down the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Newdow vs. United States without even bothering to hear arguments.

June 14, 2003: in the case of Newdow v. U.S. Congress Oyez article[], the US Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit Court decision that struck the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. The 8-0 ruling was reached on a technicality: that Michael Newdow doesn’t have standing to bring the case in the first place. (Constitution Society dot com article)

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And the beat goes on…

October 7, 2017:  a federal lawsuit charged that Windfern High School suspended India Landry,  a 17-year-old Houston student,  after refusing to stand for the daily Pledge of Allegiance.

Landry said that she had sat for the Pledge hundreds of times at Windfern High School without incident,however, Principal Martha Strother removed her after Landry declined to stand for the Pledge.

According to the lawsuit, school administrators had “recently been whipped into a frenzy” by the controversy caused by NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.

The lawsuit also charged that India was told after she was expelled that “if your mom does not get here in five minutes the police are coming.”

Washington Post article on the Pledge’s history.

United States Pledge Allegiance
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