“I refuse to take shortcuts,” powerful words spoken famous NFL Quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick. As a high profile quarterback, Colin played six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He became well known for protesting police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling and refusing to stand during the National Anthem. Colin’s strong position against systematic racism, garnered widespread media attention and sparked a nationwide movement particularly among other sports figures standing a stand and speaking out against systematic wrongs.
Colin Rand Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 3, 1987. At the age of four, he moved with his family to California. From an early age, he possessed a great interest in sports and showed exceptional athleticism. He began playing youth football at 8 years old. His strong arm quickly elevated him to the quarterback position. He also became an elite high school pitcher, one capable of throwing a fastball at 94 miles per hour.
Yet, football remained Colin’s first love. In the fourth grade, he wrote a letter predicting that he would be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. “I hope I go to a good college in football then go to the pros and play on the Niners or the Packers, even if they aren’t good in seven years,” he wrote.
While attending the University of Nevada where he played college football, he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice. During the same timeframe, he was recognized as the only player in NCCA Division I FBS history to amass 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career. As fate would have it, Colin was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He led the team to Super Bowl XLVII less than two years later.
Colin opened the 2013 season on a strong note with excellent stats. Passing for 412 yards and three touchdowns he proved himself to be invincible. The 49ers went on to notch a 12-4 record and earned their spot in the playoffs. Although the season ended with a close loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game, Colin continued to have many standout moments.
In late August 2016, before a preseason game he made a decision to kneel in lieu of standing during the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality and racial injustice. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” he said afterward in an interview. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” He added that he would continue to sit during the national anthem until seeing “significant change” for minorities. This form of protest expanded with other players and became a major political topic,
The following year, Colin remained a man without a team as the 2017 NFL season began. On October 15, 2017, he filed a grievance against NFL owners for colluding to keep him out of the league. Two years later, the lawsuit ended in a confidential settlement. Colin is currently a free agent.
Shifting his focus from sports to literature, in 2019 he founded Kaepernick Publishing which aims to elevate a new generation of writers with diverse views and voices. Having debuted his first book “Different” three years prior, he established his initial literary imprint. On July 15, 2021, Colin signed a multi-book deal with Scholastic, the largest international children’s book publisher. The first book to be released is “I Color Myself Different. “ This book was inspired by a significant childhood memory of when Colin first documented that he was different from his adopted white family. Illustrations are designed by Eric Wilkerson. The coming book is scheduled to be released on April 5, 2022.
Best Breakthrough Athlete ESPY Award -2013
NFL Honors – Greatness on the Road -2013
Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award -2017
Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award -2017
Ambassador of Conscience Award -2018
“I refuse to take shortcuts.”
“If you work hard and perform well, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 20 or 40. People are going to follow, and you can go in there and run the show.”
“I’ll never take the easy way out.”
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed.”
“I don’t want people to think you have to look a certain way or be a certain mold to be able to be a quarterback.”
“I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it.”
“I don’t watch too much TV when it comes to sports or news or things like that.”
“We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those.”
“I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put their selves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee, so I have the utmost respect for them, and I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.”
“People can talk all they want; that doesn’t affect how I go about my business.”
“I’m here to play football.”
“My dad, being a businessman, constantly talked to me about carrying myself in a certain way and treating people with respect. And I think that’s something that’s carried over throughout my life. It’s how I deal with certain situations.”
“Mental health, for me, is doing everything I can to help this team win. Sitting around not doing anything isn’t something I’ve been too big on since I was young.”
“I have great respect for the religion. I know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people.”
“Most people don’t want to change. They’re comfortable and set in their ways. But in order to change, you have to be able to agitate people at times. And I think that’s something that’s very necessary for us to improve as a country.”
“A lot of them have families to feed, and I think it’s a tragic situation where players aren’t comfortable speaking what’s on their mind or what’s right because they’re afraid of consequences that come along with it. That’s not an ideal environment for anybody.”
“People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up as far as, you know, giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody.”
“This stand wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down in any kind of way. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice: people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
“I don’t believe in pressure. The pressure is not being prepared for what you want to do.”
“I do want to be a representative of the African community, and I want to hold myself and dress myself in a way that reflects that. I want black kids to see me and think, ‘Okay, he’s carrying himself as a black man, and that’s how a black man should carry himself.’”
“To me, tattoos are a way of people being able to express themselves and have other people look at them and get a little insight into who they are, without ever even saying a word to them.”
“I have a very high expectation for everything I do. And when I go out and compete, I expect myself to make every play.”
“Whether football’s here or not, I will be fine. I go out, I play to win.”
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
“I don’t play for job security.”
“To me, I’ve played full seasons and had success. Mentally, I’ve been through it before. I’m not incapable of going through this.”
“When I’m actually getting off the bus, I still have my gospel playing. That’s the way-to-the-game kind of music.”
“I have great teammates around me who make plays.”
“I never weighed myself when I was at my lightest because I didn’t want to know.”
“Feelings aren’t going to help me win a game.”
“Training, that’s my specialty.”
ReCreate Model: Terrell Sanders
Photographer: Jasmine Mallory