It looks like Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest is spreading.
If you thought the debate over whether or not NFL players should kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality would die down as soon as they left the field, then you’d be wrong. Former San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick was the first to take a knee last season when a reporter noticed he was sitting out the national anthem. When asked why he didn’t stand with the rest of his teammates, Kaepernick explained, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
These days, Kaepernick and his then-teammate Eric Reid’s decision to kneel – along with the protests of other players like Michael Bennett, Brandon Marshall, and Arian Foster, who joined them last year – have been co-opted by calls for unity in the wake of criticism by Donald Trump, who claimed the players’ peace protest is disrespectful to the country and the flag. But the problems Kaepernick and Reid objected to in the first place remain, and even more people are speaking out.
Recently, a University of Michigan at Ann Arbor student took a knee to register his objection to racism and discrimination in America. Before his demonstration, Dana Greene Jr., a master’s of public health student, sent a letter to university president Mark Schlissel to explain why he’d be kneeling for as long as possible in the middle of campus.
“I am a black man and this weekend I watched many black men take a knee during our country’s national anthem to bring attention to the inequality in this country,” Greene wrote. “I had convinced myself that if I simply continued to move forward with my studies and with my job that things would get better. I am no longer numb but instead I will use this moment in time to make a statement.”
Greene vowed to kneel until there was “nothing left in me” and stuck to his promise. Supported by his some of his fellow students who either joined him, brought him food, or offered words of encouragement, Greene knelt for just over 20 hours, from 7 a.m. Monday until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning local time.
The University of Michigan grad student isn’t the only coed taking a knee. Students and athletes from around the country once again joined in the protest. From the women of the Johnson C. Smith University volleyball team to the cheerleader at Georgia Tech who said taking a knee was the “proudest [and] scariest moment” as a student, it’s clear that many people will refuse to be silenced.