You see, often times we don’t realize greatness until folks have passed away. Legacies aren’t cemented until decades later when society decides if a trailblazer really accomplished something noteworthy or not. That’s NOT what I have made up in my mind is going to happen when it comes to Colin Kaepernick. This young man sacrificed his NFL career to stand up for something he, and millions of other people, believe is injustice and discrimination on behalf of rich, white America. Whether intentionally or not, Kaepernick made a decision to kneel for the National Anthem and in turn, speak up for those who don’t have a voice. He lost his job for it.
What he may not have realized was that he inspired generations of activists and forced thousands, if not millions, of people to face the hard truths about America and society as a whole. Why do folks get behind women’s rights movements and gay issues, but stay silent on black issues? You can say, oh he should be quiet, he’s making millions. But I see it a bit different. Yes, he’s making millions, but Kaepernick also has a platform: Scream young king! Let your voice be heard everywhere. For every professional athlete making a substantial income, there are hundreds of thousands of people of color living in poverty, in a disadvantaged position.
Kaepernick is a black man with a white mother who knows a little more than most how color can play a role in someone’s life and their maturation and development. Kaepernick is my fraternity brother in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., an organization founded on the campus of Indiana University in 1911 when brothers had to stick together because the bond was all they had against racism, discrimination and bigotry.
Kaepernick isn’t perfect nor does he have to be. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t have a perfect life, but I would challenge anyone to say his impact was less received.
Kaepernick represents integrity, boldness and power in the face of adversity. He represents representation and accountability. Kaepernick represents being black in a white America. Kaepernick represents me. Life hasn’t been peaches and cream for anyone that I know and it likely will never be. But who’s to stop you or I in this lifetime from making it a better place. Each and every day as Kaepernick has been ostracized from the NFL and fights for rights for all, each and every one of us can figure out a way to fight in our lives. Kaepernick was just a football hero, but now he is a living pioneer.
When I think about my life and some of the things that I have accomplished thus far, some of the things that I've experienced and other things that I've seen I can't help but laugh a bit. In so many ways I wasn't and still am not supposed to have done any of it. I was born into a suburban town of predominantly white people in New Jersey, attended a high school of 1,000 students where I was 1 of 7 blacks and attended a private university with over 70% white population. In addition to this, I did not have to play a sport to get any of my accomplishments, but I've traveled the world to see Australia, New Zealand and Costa Rica just to name a few countries/continents. And while, I would like to take credit for it all, there is a large part of me that knows I had very little to do with it at all. Of course, without God nothing is possible, but even God needs a vehicle here on earth. That vehicle was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His name was Michael Luther King. Yes, Michael. It wasn't until a 1934 trip to Germany, did Dr. King Jr.'s father change his son's name to Martin in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther.
But from seemingly his birth until his assassination Dr. King made it his life's purpose to fight for the civil rights of all people so that one day we could live out many of the opportunities that I have been able to do myself; go to school wherever I want, eat wherever I want, travel throughout the world wherever I want, and ultimately be whoever I want to be.
On this day I remember Dr. King for his legacy and his commitment to the struggle. It was a battle with no end in sight much of the time; a long, harsh journey that was new and uncharted. Dr. King wasn't afforded the chance to see it through but he fought for it anyways knowing he may not see its fruition. Today, is our day because of him. It's not a day to sit back and relax, but instead a day to fight on and push forward in our own ways. Your method may be to get out in the street and march. Or you may be able to move the masses with your words in writing.
Today I am inspired by Dr. King because he had a vision and wasn't going to let anyone tell him any different. In many ways he is glorified and seen as perfect, but his method was not always so easy. Dr. King was not so popular in the '60s. In fact, 2/3 white Americans at the time had an unfavorable view of him. The FBI wanted to shut his marches down. Senators wanted to get rid of him. But he fought on. Dr. King knew what his purpose was and he knew it wouldn't be easy. It's funny how time heals so much. In a time where America has an unfavorable view on anyone with an opinion I remember Dr. King because his purpose wasn't to please man, but instead change man even if man didn't realize what was happening. Dr. King made it happen and today I remember him and thank you.
Salute, Dr. King -- today I continue your fight for a better tomorrow.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.