COLUMN: Keep kneeling. It's working.


From left, San Francisco 49ers Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 2, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

Lost in the fray of President Trump's insults at professional football players is the fact this national anthem kneeling campaign is accomplishing what originator Colin Kaepernick intended.

People are talking about racial injustice in America again. And it has been a long time coming.

Kaepernick began kneeling Aug. 14, 2016, during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers’ first preseason game as a form of protest against minority oppression. The quarterback’s protest would go unnoticed that day and the following week. However, Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation innocently tweeted a photo of the 49ers sideline Aug. 26 while the anthem played.

Later that night, the photo and ensuing story gained national attention as people noticed Kaepernick was sitting on the bench instead of standing alongside his teammates.

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick told reporters two days after the game. “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. So I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for the people that can’t.”

Kaepernick explained the scenario that would end the protest — a scenario, which, thanks to him, has united professional athletes from multiple sports with the shared task of changing the world.

“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,” Kaepernick added.

Unfortunately, Kaepernick has been unable to continue leading the way, as he was blackballed from the National Football League because of his outspoken stance. No team offered him a contract during the offseason.

While Trump’s recent crusade against kneeling during the national anthem has dominated much of the conversation regarding the issue – and has even overshadowed actual on-field play – it is achieving the opposite results he would like.

It's extremely clear from Trump's comments that he wants players to either stand for the anthem or be fired.

Instead, coaches, general managers and owners alike have responded with showings of solidarity alongside players who choose to protest the anthem.

Around the league, many owners and front office personnel stood arm in arm with their players while the anthem blared. Some teams protested differently by staying in the locker room.

One thing was obvious, though. There would be no firings.

Trump’s comments were divisive; the response was anything but.

Now, it’s time for a team to give Kaepernick a job and let him finish what he started. 


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