Social activism and sports have gone hand in hand throughout history. From Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, athletes not only remain on the front lines within their sporting field but also in the real world, where racial and economic inequality runs rampant.
To bring a high level of awareness to issues that continue to constrict minorities, women, immigrants and others, a group of previous and current NFL players is calling on the league to take a stand, or knee, alongside them.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Anquan Boldin (Buffalo Bills), Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles), Michael Bennett (Seattle Seahawks) and Torrey Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) issued a memo to the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, to receive backing for deeming November a month of “activism awareness.”
A portion of the memo reads:
Our focus has been to identify and place our efforts on the key areas of reform where our influence and support can make a meaningful difference in the community. Those include prioritizing Criminal Justice Reform and Police/Community Relations Engagement. Within those two areas that includes: police transparency/accountability, bail reform, criminalization of poverty, mass incarceration (mandatory minimum sentences, juvenile life parole) and Clean Slate Act, which also includes emphasis on diversion of funds towards community based programs, education and training. (More information below – see Addendum). Through Police/Community Relations & Engagement, we are working with grass roots organizations and police directly through various efforts to build trust within our communities and increase educational and employment opportunities.
Recently, a rally was held outside the NFL’s headquarters in New York City to protest the fact that Colin Kaepernick has yet to be recruited to a new team. The former San Francisco 49er continues to donate to charities that aim to fight for social/racial equality, and he stands firm behind his protest of the national anthem.