“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” – Colin Kaepernick to NFL.com
On August 26, 2017, a new movement started. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines by choosing to sit during the United States national anthem. The National Football League (NFL) star claimed that his act was a symbolic gesture protesting the current state of minority rights in the United States, particularly the unarmed killings of Black Americans by law enforcement. One week later, Kaepernick shifted from sitting to kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick clarified that he intended to strengthen the connection between his actions and opposing social inequities, thereby refuting the allegations that his kneeling acts were intended to deliberately disrespect the military.
Kaepernick’s individual acts created a wave. Throughout the 2016 and 2017 football seasons, NFL players across the country showed solidarity with Kaepernick by borrowing his symbolic gesture. These “social justice warriors” (SJW) sparked heated responses from the public, including by current President of the United States Donald J. Trump.