Colin Kaepernick has peacefully protested the “Star-Spangled Banner” for months. Kaepernick has refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” after incidents of police violence and racist policing. His actions have earned him comparisons to 1968 Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but Kaepernick wants more than that. He wants to see change. Early on Saturday morning, he hosted a “Know Your Rights” camp – a free initiative that attracted hundreds of black and Latino children from Oakland.
Kaepernick got lawyers, professors, health and fitness experts to speak to Oakland’s youth and help them gain the tools they need in life. “We’re here today to fight back and give you all lessons to combat the oppressive issues that our people face on a daily basis,” he said, according to The New York Daily News. “We’re here to give you tools to help you succeed. We’re going to give you knowledge on policing history, what the systems of policing in America were based on, and we’re also going to teach you skills to make sure you always make it home safely. We want to teach you today about financial literacy, how you can pursue higher education, how you can be physically fit and healthy.”
As Colin kept up with a demanding NFL job, he’s quietly planned this camp, which he hopes to replicate all over the country. Someone of Kaepernick’s cachet could have gotten a host of brands to sponsor the event. He didn’t want any one to have the power to decide the camp’s message. Kaepernick has overseen every facet of the program. His involvement even included packing backpacks full of goodies for the kids. “I didn’t just want to hire someone to come in and do this,” he said. “I told myself that if I was going to do this type of work, that I was going to actually do it myself.”
At the beginning of the day, the kids received black T-shirt with the words “I Know My Rights” emblazoned on the front. On the back were 10 rights – inspired by the Black Panthers’ 10-point plan – that every child should have.
Toward the end of the day, Colin shared a highly personal story about how taking a DNA test changed his life. “I took an Ancestry DNA test and discovered that my ancestors are from Ghana and Nigeria,” he said. “It changed everything for me. It helped me know that my history did not begin with being adopted. It did not begin with slavery. It’s even part of why I wear this Afro now. I’m not going to hide who I am.
“I want all of you to know what I know, so when you leave, in your bag, you’ll see the forms where each and every one of you can discover your ancestry through your DNA for free. We’ve taken care of that for each of you. I want you to know what I know and know where you came from before slavery, before this oppression that we are experiencing, before police brutality, you had thousands of years of rich history and I want you to know your roots with that history.”
Throughout the inaugural camp, Kaepernick listened intently and obliged to numerous selfie requests. But perhaps the biggest proof that he remains visibly excited is that, like a proud parent, he continues to inundate his timeline with excited messages about the “Know Your Rights” camp.