Colin Kaepernick just got two big endorsements for his refusal to stand for the national anthem: Tommie Smith and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Smith is famous for raising his fist as a salute for black power on the medal stand of the 1968 Olympics. He won gold and set a world record in the 200 meters. The move saw him, and teammate John Carlos, suspended by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“Colin is 28 years old and realizing that things are not quite like what ‘they’ said it would be,” Smith told USA Today Sports Tuesday. “He’s just speaking out (but) he used a platform that many Americans don’t agree with.”
“He’s being vilified in how he brings the truth out,” Smith told USA Today Sports. “I support him because he’s bringing the truth out – regardless of how done. If it’s not done violently, at least he should be heard.”
Smith continued by saying he hopes this is the age of “re-awakening,” and that public figures like Kaepernick speaking out help things “keep rolling.”
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post Tuesday, Hall of Fame basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem, “highly patriotic.”
“What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in The Washington Post. “[B]ut that nearly 50 years after [Muhammad] Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities.”
While some have said Kaepernick is not taking any risk with his public stance, Abdul-Jabbar believes he took great risk in doing so.
“Kaepernick’s choice not to stand during the national anthem could create a public backlash that might cost him millions in future endorsements and affect his value as a player on his team, reducing salary earnings or even jeopardizing his job,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
Abdul-Jabbar goes on to say that while people love to, “brag about our freedoms,” people too often label others as “unpatriotic” when they exercise that freedom to espouse displeasure with the “government’s record in upholding the Constitution.”
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