This past week, San Francisco 49er’s QB, Colin Kaepernick, decided to make a very public statement by not standing for the national anthem prior to a pre-season game. Kaepernick vowed to continue sitting during the national anthem until he was satisfied with the changes made toward ending racial oppression in the United States. This non-verbal statement was received with mixed reviews from people and media outlets across the nation. Whether you agree with his actions or not, as an American, it is his right to voice freely what he feels. The questions that followed that evening were who would follow and who would not.
The fact of the matter is that in order to truly start a movement, it is not the one who makes the bold and courageous statement that is the true leader. In one of my favorite TED Talks; “How to Start a Movement”, Derek Sivers explains that the true leader of a movement is the first follower. It is the first follower that creates the safety in which others can begin to follow.
Prior to their pre-season game in San Diego, Kaepernick met with former Green Beret and NFL long snapper, Nate Boyer as well as teammate Eric Reid. Boyer states that like many of his military brethren, he was “angry” when he witnessed the actions of the QB. However, after speaking with Kaepernick, he was able to better understand his reasons for making such a bold statement on such a large stage, a statement that was never meant as a slight against our brave men and women who serve.
When the National Anthem played that evening, cameras showed a standing Nate Boyer next to kneeling Colin Kaepernick as well as a kneeling Eric Reid. Reid and Boyer have now made this an official movement. Just as Sivers demonstrates in his TedTalk, others in deed have begun to follow. Up the coast in Seattle, Seahawks corner, Jeremy Lane also joined in the protest. Derek Sivers would agree that this has officially become a movement. With over 68% of NFL players being African American, I think we will see this movement swell into something even greater; dare I say change?
What’s your opinion on Colin Kaepernicks statement? Do you agree or do you think he should not use his platform in such a political way. And as the school year begins across the country and kids are on sports teams, what will you think when they all decide to join the movement? I would love to hear. Clearly these conversations need to happen more than they need to be avoided.