“ Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
History repeats itself, so it should be no surprise that this statement is as relevant today as is was in 1963 when MLK wrote it in his Letter From Birmingham Jail.
Today, 50 years later, this fight is still going on with a new leader.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become the face of the fight against injustice. Kaepernick began to make headlines and sports talk shows when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
Kaepernick became a household name and public enemy number one for right wingers who considered themselves “real” Americans. Though conservatives may hate him, Kaepernick is a source of inspiration and pride for many of us.
I believe Kaepernick is the 21st century’s MLK.
When his protests began during the 2016 NFL preseason, Kaepernick was called “a traitor,” “un-American,” “unpatriotic” and worse, including the n-word and other racist epithets. He is being demonized for the same principles MLK now is revered for during his the mid-20th century period of activism.
King non-violently stood for equal rights and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for African Americans during the era of segregation, which he helped to end.
Kaepernick is also standing for equal rights and in opposition to escalating police brutality against blacks in America. King would have loved Kaepernick, who, like MLK, is intelligent, thoughtful, humble, altruistic and courageous.
Kaepernick knelt during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality. He did not stop there. He has started a donation campaign called 10 for 10 where he has partnered with celebrities who donate $10,000 each to a cause of that celebrity’s choice. Kaepernick, though his career has been ruined, has pledged to give $1 million himself. He organized Know Your Rights camps for kids to learn how to deal with police safely.
Kaepernick is using his platform as an NFL quarterback to influence children in a positive way. Standing up for injustice was costly. He sacrificed his own personal dream of a long and proactive NFL career.
Kaepernick lost his dream, but MLK lost his life. Kaepernick knows that. Now Kaepernick is pursuing King’s dream.
He also knows that over time following his murder, King went from hated to one of the most beloved people in American history. Schools, streets and a national holiday bear his name.
Even Racist-in-Chief Donald Trump called King a great American hero, surprising after he called kneeling NFL players like Kaepernick “sons of bitches.”
Protofacist White Power Barbie Tomi Lahren also praised MLK on MLK Day by tweeting, “Today we honor a great man with a great message #MLKDay.”
Lahren attached a photo with the famous quote by MLK, “ I have a dream that my four little children will live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Lahren had nothing but vitriol for Kaepernick, however blasting him on her show, as a “whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby.” Irony seems lost on Lahren, a notorious whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby.
Martin Luther King Jr. is now considered to be one of the greatest men in U.S history, admired by millions. Kaepernick is acting on the lessons of King and is also a great American. King is a legendary teacher and Kaepernick is one of his best students. Maybe the children of Lahren and grandchildren of Trump will overcome their forbearers’ hatred and admire Kaepernick for “the content of his character,” which is off the charts.
“Heroes,” said Gerard Way, “are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.” Kaepernick, a foster child from the most ordinary and humble background, has transcended what the world handed him and has become the leader of a movement. Dr. King would be proud.