Musical artist and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah, acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall and Robert Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners are among the honorees being recognized by Harvard University this year with the W.E.B. DuBois Medal for their contributions to black history and culture.
Harvard is set to honor Latifah, Marshall, Smith, poet and educator Elizabeth Alexander, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch III, poet Rita Dove, and Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television on Oct. 22, according to Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Past recipients of the DuBois Medal include Dave Chappelle, Colin Kaepernick, Bryan Stevenson, Kehinde Wiley, Quincy Jones, Donna Brazile and LLCoolJ.
With powerful, poignant speeches from presenters and honorees alike, this year’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal awards felt more like a gospel church service-cum-rock concert than an academic award ceremony.
Athlete and social activist Colin Kaepernick set the tone before an exhilarated crowd that included some 150 local high school students, declaring that people in positions of privilege and power have a “responsibility” to speak up for the powerless.
“People live with this every single day and we expect them to thrive in situations where they’re just trying to survive,” said the NFL free agent who famously took a knee during pregame national anthems to protest racial injustice in America. “If we don’t, we become complicit. It is our duty to fight for them.”
Kaepernick was one of the eight laureates who received medals at Sanders Theatre on Thursday night. Others were comedian Dave Chappelle; writer and social critic Florence C. Ladd; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson; renowned artist Kehinde Wiley; General Catalyst chairman and CEO Kenneth I. Chenault; philanthropist and Avid Partners founder Pamela J. Joyner; and human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
The awards are bestowed by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research for contributions to African and African-American history and culture. Ladd, the former director of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe, donned her medal, then pumped her fist in the air and told the cheering crowd: “A takeaway must be protest, protest, protest.”
Stevenson, M.P.P. ’85, J.D. ’85, L.L.D. ’15, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, dedicated his award to “people who did so much more with so much less” and asked the audience to think of hope as “your superpower.” To the students, he made a more pointed request: “You’ve got to be willing to do uncomfortable things. You’ve got to be willing to do inconvenient things. Don’t ever think that your grades are a measure of your capacity.” Stevenson himself won a historic Supreme Court ruling that declared that mandatory sentences of life without parole for children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.
Moments of humor punctuated the call to resistance, particularly when presenter and incoming Dean of Social Science Lawrence D. Bobo recited parts of Chappelle’s famous skit “The Racial Draft.“ He called the comedian a “teller of uncomfortable truths.”
Chappelle, for his part, praised his parents, especially his mother, a professor of African-American studies. “She raised me well. I am not an uninformed person,” he said.
Chappelle said he was humbled to be on stage with his fellow honorees: “You all make me want to be better,” he said. He promised another comedy special and ended his speech with a quote from favorite writer James Baldwin’s book “The Fire Next Time.”
“God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water. The fire next time.”
Hutchins Center director Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, reflected on the critical nature of the honorees’ work in the fight for racial and social justice.
“When we recall the dramatic progress we’ve made in this country’s struggle for civil rights, it’s tempting to remember only our long arc of progress. But we find ourselves in a new nadir in our country’s race relations,” he said, quoting Du Bois, the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard.
“Agitation is a necessary evil to tell of the ills of the suffering. Without it, many a nation has been lulled to false security and preened itself with virtues it did not possess.”
Nearly two weeks after the ad provoked calls for boycotts, shares hit an all-time high, closing at $83.47 Thursday — an all-time high for the company.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Nike had previously faced a dip in its stock price immediately after its Kaepernick announcement, dropping nearly 3 percent in the next day of trading at the New York Stock Exchange. That fall has since been made up and more, per Yahoo.
Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ‘Just do it’ campaign is a two-minute video featuring the former 49er narrating stories of athletes who have beaten the odds, ending with the words: “It’s only crazy until you do it,” then changing to “Just do it.”
According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick. In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America. Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.
Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.
According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.
Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.
The NFL suffered a stunning blow Thursday when an arbitrator ruled that there is enough evidence in the grievance case of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to send it to a full hearing.
Arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the NFL’s request for summary judgment and a dismissal of the case, an eye-opening ruling that allows Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the league to continue. Burbank now will hold a full hearing, possibly before the end of the year, and issue a final ruling.
Kaepernick has been a polarizing figure since he began protesting social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem two years ago. Kaepernick’s representatives, led by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, filed a suit against the league in October, contending that NFL teams and their owners have conspired to keep him from working in the league since he left the 49ers on March 2, 2017.
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said last year he knows why Kaepernick is still unemployed. “What is it about?” he said. “It’s not about football or color. It’s about, ‘Boy, stay in your place.’ ”
Burbank’s ruling now puts the image-conscious NFL under a bigger, more public microscope. NFL owners, coaches and executives will face more intense questioning and cross-examinations in the trial-like setting of a full arbitrator’s hearing than they did in depositions.
Some of the league’s heavy hitters already have been deposed in the case: Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh were all questioned with Kaepernick present.
Before a gag order was issued in the case, Goodell denied there was a concerted effort to keep Kaepernick sidelined. “Those are football decisions that each team has to make and what they think are the right ways to make their football teams better,” Goodell said.
In arguing to dismiss the case, the NFL contended that Kaepernick’s attorneys had not met the burden of proof stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players association.
The arbitrator’s ruling did not surprise Stanford law professor William Gould, but he said it does indicate Kaepernick has a substantial case. “You would anticipate that given the fact that there have been many depositions taken that there would be issues of fact here, which could possibly allow Kaepernick to prevail,” Gould said.
Gould added that Kaepernick’s legal team still faces real hurdles at the full hearing. “He will have to most likely through trial-like proceedings meet his burden, which is to show through a preponderance of evidence that collusion exists,” Gould said. “And it’s a tough burden in a case like this because the agreement explicitly says you can’t rely simply upon the fact that other players with dissimilar qualifications were picked by clubs for the vacancies that were available.
“We know that Jay Cutler was chosen by Miami,” he added. “He was booed out of Chicago. Surely Kaepernick was preferable to him, and I think that’s the case, but that alone will not carry the day for Kaepernick.”
Kaepernick, aside from holding Know Your Rights camps for inner-city youths, has maintained a low profile. When approached May 8 by this news organization following a workout with Reid at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Kaepernick said: “We’re not doing interviews. We’re just here getting in a workout.”
Kaepernick won 28 of 58 games as the 49ers starter, first seizing that role during the 2012 season en route to a berth in Super Bowl XLVII, where the 49ers fell to the Ravens. He was 4-2 in playoff action.
Staff writer Cam Inman contributed to this report.
According to billboard.com, DoSomething.org’s annual Celebs Gone Good list for 2017 is topped by Chicago artist and philanthropist Chance The Rapper. Chano is s followed by Arianna Grande, Rihanna, and Colin Kaepernick. Nicki Minaj and Ava DuVernay also appear, making their debuts on the list. The list recognizes celebrities who used their impact to affect social change in the world, as they helped raise awareness for causes such as mental health, education, gun violence, LGBTQ, sexual assault, hurricane/disaster relief and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The organization also selected eight Celebs to Watch in 2018, featuring young talent who give back. Teen actress Skai Jackson and Beyonce’s protégé Chloe X Halle made the cut, by inspiring young women and speaking out about women’s rights and bullying. Halima Aden also made the list for promoting diversity in the fashion industry, becoming the first hijab-wearing fashion model.
Colin Kaepernick made his truth known when he first decided not to stand for the national anthem. He had a lot of football left to play and a lot more money to make when he made his decision. It was late August, 2016. People who were anonymous in life had become famous in death. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Alton Sterling. Freddie Gray. They were tragic symbols of a society that had taken a terribly wrong turn. As the anthem played ahead of the 49ers’ preseason game against the Texans, Kaepernick, San Francisco’s 28-year-old quarterback at the time, quietly took a seat on the bench.
It took two weeks for anyone from the media to ask him about it. Kaepernick explained that he was making a statement about inequality and social justice, about the ways this country “oppresses black people and people of color.”
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he added. “There are bodies in the street,” he said then, “and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
In the last 16 months, Kaepernick’s truth has been twisted, distorted and used for political gain. It has cost him at least a year of his NFL career and the income that should have come with it. But still, it is his truth. He has not wavered from it. He does not regret speaking it. He has caused millions of people to examine it. And, quietly, he has donated nearly a million dollars to support it.
For all those reasons—for his steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost—Colin Kaepernick is the recipient of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Each year SI and the Ali family honor a figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world. “I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” says Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”
Previous Legacy winners—including Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus and Magic Johnson—were deserving. But no winner has been more fitting than Kaepernick. Ali lost more than three years of his career for his refusal to serve in the military in opposition to the Vietnam War. Kaepernick has lost one year, so far, for his pursuit of social justice.
When Kaepernick first protested during the national anthem, he could not have envisioned the size and duration of the ensuing firestorm. But he knew there would be fallout. So much has changed in America since the summer of 2016, and so many words have been used to describe Kaepernick. But his words from his first explanation remain his truth:
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Kaepernick kept his job for a season before being blackballed by the NFL—and yes, he has been blackballed. This should be obvious by now. Scott Tolzien, Cody Kessler, Tom Savage and Matt Cassel have thrown passes in the league this year, yet nobody has tried to sign Kaepernick, who is fifth in NFL history in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Kaepernick has been called a distraction, which is laughable— his coach last year, Chip Kelly, says there was “zero distraction,” and his 49ers teammates said the same. Most NFL players would rather be “distracted” by Kaepernick than try to tackle the guy who just intercepted Brock Osweiler.
Kaepernick has paid a price beyond missing games and losing paychecks. He has been battered by critics who don’t want to understand him. Some say Kaepernick hates America; he says he is trying to make it better. Others say he hates the military, but on Sept. 1, 2016, as the then-San Diego Chargers played a tribute to the military on the stadium videoboard, Kaepernick applauded.
Nobody claims Kaepernick is perfect. Reasonable, woke people can be upset that he did not vote in the 2016 election. But the Ali Legacy Award does not honor perfection, and the criticisms of Kaepernick are misguided in one fundamental way: They make this story a referendum on Kaepernick. It was never supposed to be about him. It is about Tamir Rice and the world’s highest incarceration rate and a country that devalues education and slides too easily into violence.
When Ali was drafted into the military in 1967 and refused to report, much of the country disapproved. Ali explained his refusal by saying: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam after so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
Time ultimately shined a softer light on Ali. For the last 40 years of his life, Ali was arguably the most popular athlete in American history. But in the late 1960s, he was deeply unpopular and his future was uncertain.
Ali was 25 when he was banned from boxing and 28 when he returned to the sport. Boxing historians sometimes wonder what he would have done in those prime years. But Ali did not look at it that way. Instead of focusing on the piece of his career that he lost, he talked about what he had gained: a sense of self, and of purpose, greater than he could ever find in the ring. He risked prison time. He did not know if he would ever be allowed to fight again. But he knew he was clinging to his truth. As Ali later toldSI’s George Plimpton: “Every man wonders what he is going to do when he is put on the chopping block, when he’s going to be tested.”
Someday, America may well be a better place because of Colin Kaepernick. This is hard to see now— history is not meant to be analyzed in real time. But we are having conversations we need to have, and this should eventually lead to changes we need to make. Police officers, politicians and citizens can work together to create a safer, fairer, more civil society. Kaepernick did not want to sacrifice his football career for this. But he did it anyway. It is a rare person who gives up what he loves in exchange for what he believes.
During a time in our country where the political climate has been heated and racial tensions were seemingly at an all-time high, the daughters of the late civil rights leader Malcolm X were using fashion as an avenue for social activism, Black Enterprise reported.
Ilyasah Shabazz, Qubilah Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz and Malaak Shabazz have all teamed up with the tech company Hingeto to create a clothing line that pays homage to their father’s legacy. The line, dubbed Malcolm X Legacy, features items that are inspired by the activist’s twelve principles which stressed the importance of human rights, education, economic independence, cultural pride, and justice. The collection features hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and will soon include artwork.
Leandrew Robinson, the CEO of Hingeto, told Black Enterprise that a clothing line like this is more fitting now than ever with all of the turmoil that has been happening within our country. “It was clear Malcolm’s principles are as relevant today as ever. We all thought it was imperative to represent his message and today’s human rights movement as a brand that people can outfit themselves in daily,” said Robinson. He also added that Colin Kaepernick has cosigned the new brand and has taken to Twitter to share info about the line.
Malcolm X Legacy’s site delves into his contributions to the Civil Rights movement. “Malcolm X will be remembered for his contribution to society of underscoring the value of a truly free populace by demonstrating the great lengths to which human beings will go to secure their freedom,” read the site.
GQ Magazinehas just named Colin Kaepernick as its “Citizen of the Year.” In a special December issue of the magazine, Kaepernick paired with GQ as well as ten of his closest allies and friends to “reclaim the narrative of his protest.” The magazine calls Kaepernick “the man who became the movement” and referenced the fact that, four years ago, Kaepernick had been on the cover as one of the rising stars in American football.
“In 2013, Colin Kaepernick was on the cover of this magazine because he was one of the best football players in the world. In 2017, Colin Kaepernick is on GQ‘s cover once again—but this time it is because he isn’t playing football. And it’s not because he’s hurt, or because he’s broken any rules, or because he’s not good enough,” GQ wrote in the piece.
The piece also noted:
HE IS STILL, TO THIS DAY, ONE OF THE MOST GIFTED QUARTERBACKS ON EARTH. AND YET HE HAS BEEN LOCKED OUT OF THE GAME HE LOVES—BLACKBALLED—BECAUSE OF ONE SIMPLE GESTURE: HE KNELT DURING THE PLAYING OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM. AND HE DID IT FOR A CLEAR REASON, ONE THAT HAS BEEN LOST IN THE YEARLONG STORM THAT FOLLOWED. HE DID IT TO PROTEST SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION AND, MORE SPECIFICALLY, AS HE SAID REPEATEDLY AT THE TIME, POLICE BRUTALITY TOWARD BLACK PEOPLE.
But rather than speaking for himself about his protests, Kaepernick has vowed to keep his silence on the matter, and instead, the piece features ten people close to the former 49ers quarterback who spoke about what the protest means to them and what we can do, as a nation, to keep speaking out against injustice.
John Legend and Jesse Williams are working on a documentary that will look at the 1968 Black Power salute seen around the world. More than four decades before Colin Kaepernick took a knee in silent protest of police brutality and racial injustice, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a statement with raised fists during the Summer Olympic games in Mexico City.
The documentary, With Drawn Arms, is executive produced by Williams and Legend, along with the Grammy and Oscar winning singer’s partners from his Get Lifted Film Co., Deadline reports. Smith is the focus of the documentary. The former sprinter and NFL wide received took home the gold medal at the 1968 games after completing the 200-meter dash, while Carlos earned the bronze medal. Both men were suspended for raising their fists during the medal ceremony, stripped of their credentials, and given 48 hours to leave Olympic Village.
With Drawn Arms is currently in production in Los Angeles and is co-directed by Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi, who is the father of Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi, and worked as one of Prince’s personal photographers. “Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over,” Williams said in a statement noting that Smith is a “living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination.” He added, “I couldn’t be more excited to join forces with this team of filmmakers, to share his reality and challenge our notions of heroism in the process.”