The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus introduced a resolution to honor the state’s influential African Americans as part of Black History Month but Republicans refused to pass it because of one controversial name: former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick is a Wisconsin native and was joined on the list by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former NFL star Reggie Bush, according to USA Today.
Republicans were put off by Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality and racial discrimination in the United States. The controversy was heightened by President Donald Trump, who insisted the protest was disrespectful to the military and the flag and had “nothing to do with race.”
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said his party wouldn’t support the resolution “for obvious reasons.”
Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin disagreed. They believed it was important to honor the former football player for his contribution to black protests and his $25,000 donation to the Milwaukee charity Urban Underground.
“I could not in good conscience vote for a watered down version of what was introduced by the Legislative Black Caucus,” State Rep. LaKeshia Myers said in a statement.
“For much of our existence in the United States, African Americans have had to ask for permission; I refuse to ask for permission when honoring those who have made significant contributions to the plights of African American people. The insistence that Colin Kaepernick’s name be removed from the black history month resolution was an exercise in white privilege and one that I can not accept. To agree to this watered down version of this resolution would mean supporting the suppression of the African American’s fundamental right to protest injustice. That is something I cannot and will not do.”
My official statement regarding AJR8 can be found below. For more information please contact Kenya Parker at (608) 266-5813. pic.twitter.com/TZHR6EvAKz
— Rep. Lakeshia Myers (@RepMyers) February 13, 2019
Kaepernick’s mother, Teresa Kaepernick, thanked the representative for her stance. “I know I don’t have to tell you that this is about so much more than Colin,” she tweeted at Myers. “My family’s roots are in WI and I am so pleased that someone such as yourself is a representative of that state.”
I am happy to offer my support, but I know I don't have to tell you that this is about so much more than Colin. My family's roots are in WI and I am so pleased that someone such as yourself is a representative of that state. The assembly can use your guidance.
— Teresa Kaepernick (@B4IleaveU) February 13, 2019
Other state legislators chimed in as well. Democratic Rep. David Crowley said the rejection of the resolution from Republicans was a “slap in the face.”
“Many of these people that you don’t agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading,” he said on the Assembly floor.
Democratic State Sen. Lena Taylor, who co-wrote the resolution, saw the rejection as an attack on African American’s freedom of speech.
“So while we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, evidently the Republicans don’t think the First Amendment rights should be afforded to African Americans.”