Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has been deserted by most of the country for his refusal to stand up for the national anthem, let alone his scathing attack on American law-enforcement officials.
However, Kaepernick has received the unwavering support of track legend John Carlos, who during the 1968 Olympics raised gloved fists on the medal stand to deliver the now legendary “Black Power Salute”.
On that historic day in Mexico City, Carlos and teammate Tommie Smith, who won the bronze and gold medals respectively, symbolized the Black Power movement by keeping their arms raised on the podium until the American until the anthem had finished.
The public demonstration is talked about until this day. Carlos and Smith’s actions were backed by other athletes-turned-civil rights crusaders such as Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
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The 71-year-old Carlos empathized with Kaepernick, stating that the criticism he has received has been uncalled for. “I would let him know that he’s involved in a movement. He’s jumped into the pool of human history. (He’s) with those that have prevailed and risen above the norm,” Carlos was quoted as saying by Mercury News.
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“What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after 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. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.”
Legendary boxer George Foreman, however, does not agree with Kaepernick’s stance, holding firm to his belief that social activism and sports don’t go hand-in-hand. Remember, Foreman countered Carlos and Smith during the 1968 Olympics by walking around the ring with an American flag after winning the gold medal.
“Sports is free. It’s when the whole world can come together and compete. (Some) athletes don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t even know what they are standing for. They just have someone in their ear. … So I don’t like it, and I never did like it,” the boxer told The Undefeated.