Although Colin Kaepernick continues to draw criticism for refusing to stand during the national anthem, his message that he won’t “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people” is being heard loud and clear — and watching others embrace that cause has touched him deeply.
“It’s the kids, the communities, the support. Something that everybody else saw and was like, ‘You know what? I believe in what that movement is and what that issue he’s trying to fight for is,'” Kaepernick told ESPN’s “Undefeated” Saturday.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback spent the day with kids at an event in Oakland, Calif. called, “I Know My Rights Camp,” educating them about the reasons for his protest and the issues surrounding it. He told the campers:
“We’re here today to fight back and give you all lessons to combat the oppressive issues that our people face on a daily basis. We’re here to give you tools to help you succeed,” he said. “We’re going to give you knowledge on policing history, what the systems of policing in America were based on, and we’re also going to teach you skills to make sure you always make it home safely.”
Kaepernick has become the center of a media firestorm and football fan frenzies with charges ranging from “unpatriotic” to “treasonous.” The anti-Colin Kaepernick movement has gotten pretty nasty, as National Anthem-loving football enthusiasts eager to make a buck sold T-shirts picturing his face in the center of a rifle-scope. First Amendment rights aside, the Kaepernick haters keep hating, and he’s okay with that.
“I haven’t really focused on that too much because part of the oppressive system is you’re going to have that backlash for trying to fight for people, and that was something I was fully prepared for, fully aware of, so when those things came, it was expected. It wasn’t an issue for me. The support is really what to me was huge and really gave me excitement, gave me life, as far as people are seeing this the same way I am, and now we can help create change.”
Watch the entire interview above.