Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest continues to spread like wildfire

Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest continues to spread like wildfire
Source: AP
Source: AP

Naysayers doubting the staying power of Colin Kaepernick's protest got more proof over the weekend that taking a knee during the national anthem is attracting more and more supporters.

Across the country, high school, college and professional football players continued to support the San Francisco 49ers quarterback's stance on police violence and equity for people of color. 

Protests are even taking place at non-sports venues — and going viral on social media.

One of those venues was the momentous opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Some attendees who gathered on the National Mall for the opening ceremony took a knee or raised a fist when the national anthem was sung.

The museum officially opened to the public Monday.

National anthem protests continued on the football field, too. As of Sunday, activist Michaal Skolnik counted more than 40 football players from 14 NFL teams as having joined the protest that Kaepernick sparked during a pre-season game in August.

Kaepernick visited a high school football team in Oakland, California, over the weekend. After speaking to the players, he joined them out of the field. While the NFL quarterback took a knee, the players laid on their backs with their hands up during the national anthem.

"You all are doing this at a much younger age than I did," Kaepernick said to the team. "It took me a while to get to this point, and you all are conscious of this at this point in time."

Students and fans raised their fists during the national anthem at a University of North Carolina home game against the Pittsburg Panthers on Saturday.

The national anthem protests are showing up at other sports events, too. Al Woolum, a U.S. Navy veteran and grandfather, sported a "Black Lives Matter" t-shirt and took a knee for the national anthem at a high school girls' volleyball game.

Although Kaepernick's actions have clearly grown into a movement, they are not unprecedented in sports. In the 1960s, it was Muhammad Ali's anti-war and anti-racism stance during the civil rights movement that inspired other black football and basketball stars to take public stands against injustice in the U.S.

But more than 50 years later, and in the wake of recent protests, this kind of activism has yet to spur reforms that address the seemingly unending epidemic of police violence against people color.