University Of Michigan Student Kneels For 20 Hours Straight To Protest Injustice On Campus

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.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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