Cornell William Brooks, the president of the NAACP, compared Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the national anthem at NFL games in 2016 to Rosa Parks’ decision not to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955.
“It’s a lofty name, but it’s not a stretch,” Brooks told USA Today Sports. “We’ll let history be the judge, how consequential Kaepernick’s action is.”
The embattled San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been embroiled by controversy in his protest against police brutality, choosing not to stand during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Criticism of the 28-year-old’s motives were questioned, increasingly so after Kaepernick was caught on camera wearing “pig cop” socks at 49ers events. He has since apologized for wearing the socks.
Brooks, who supports Kaepernick’s protest, said the NAACP has reached out to and is waiting to hear from the young quarterback.
Nevertheless, Brooks says his organization intends to use Kaepernick’s protest as a vehicle to turn out voters in November.
“There is a real ambivalence and civic agnosticism when it comes to the vote,” he said. “What we’re endeavoring to do is to remind people that all the things people are protesting in the streets are directly impacted by state and municipal elections.”
“There’s been no movement in this country that has succeeded upon the heroism of any one individual,’’ Brooks said, “but rather the loyal, committed, concerted and sustained action of a group of people. So you have to partner.”
In terms of next steps, Kaepernick says he is planning to meet with activists and civil rights group leaders and he is reportedly set to donate $1 million to community organizations to combat inequality.
“Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed,” Kaepernick told the press when asked why he is protesting. “People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up.”