If you have missed it, Colin Kaepernick, a free-agent quarterback who formerly played for San Francisco 49ers, sat out the national anthem for months on end in 2016, in protest of police brutality towards African Americans.
“This stand wasn’t for me,’’ Kaepernick said at the time. “This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change.’’
While Kaepernick’s career remains in limbo – having not played a match since the conclusion of last year’s football season – on Sunday more than 100 NFL players protested in the 29-year-old’s absence, many wearing or holding T-shirts that read #IMWITHKAP.
What began as one man’s social justice cause has now become a nationwide movement.
Whole teams came to their knees and locked arms as the national anthem played over the weekend. Some, including the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers, didn’t even walk onto the field while the Star-Spangled Banner (the name of the US anthem) played.
Listen: Curious as to what’s going on in the world of Trump? Mia Freedman and Amelia deep-dive, on the latest episode of Tell Me It’s Going To Be OK. Post continues after audio.
Trump has condemned the actions of the players in a series of tweets.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” the President said.
“If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
He allegedly called the players “sons of bitches” at a rally, last Friday.
…NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
His response, labelled erratic by some commentators, has only elicited more players, coaches and celebrities to kneel. It has spurred on thousands to #TakeAKnee, and post their photos on social media.
There’s a lot of debate right now about what it means to be American. For me, seeing so many people unite in peaceful protest is the most powerful contender for patriotic representation. This is not about standing with Trump or kneeling in protest of Trump. The protest is, and will always be, about the inequality in the US and its systemic racism against black people. Anyone who looks at sports as a place where politics should be put aside can only do so if they have the privilege to bypass the issues being protested. Thank you to all of those who came together to send a clear message that a petty bully cannot squash the spirit of the movement. In fact, he’s clarified it. Proud to be American. #TakeAKnee
While the protest’s premise has divided public opinion in the US, the photos are simply moving.
Take a look through our photo collection of some of the most important shots from #TakeAKneel…