The San Francisco 49ers pledged $1 million toward fighting racial inequality.
In August, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the subject of both praise and scorn for protesting racial injustice and police violence when he sat while the national anthem played before his team's game against the Green Bay Packers.
The following week, after a discussion with former Green Beret Nat Boyer, Kaepernick took a knee while the anthem played. (Boyer suggested that it might be more respectful, and Kaepernick agreed.)
Though sometimes framed as a "flag protest" or swipe at the U.S. military, that's hardly the case. Kaepernick has been clear about what he wants: a better America, one that lives up to the ideals that the flag is supposed to represent.
On Sept. 8th, the 49ers threw its support behind the quarterback in a big way — with a donation.
49ers CEO Jed York issued a statement saying that the 49ers Foundation, the team's charitable arm, will contribute $1 million to "the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area."
The money will be going to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco foundation.
This comes in addition to Kaepernick's personal pledge to donate $1 million of his 2016 salary to help underserved communities.
Some of the early criticism of Kaepernick's protest was that, as a multimillionaire, he either shouldn't be able to criticize anything in America (which is ridiculous) or that he should be using his wealth to make a difference off the field.
Seems critics forgot that he could both continue his silent protest and use his financial resources to improve the lives of others.
Some continue to argue that this isn't the "right" way to go about protesting injustice or that's it's somehow not effective. The story that's followed, however, has shown just how wrong they are.
Soon after he began his protest, Kaepernick's jersey began rocketing up the sales chart on the NFL's team store as fans flocked to load up on gear in support of the 28-year-old.
On Instagram, Kaepernick wrote that he planned to donate all proceeds he receives from jersey sales back into local communities.
I want to thank everyone who has shown me love and support, it truly means a lot! I wasn't expecting my jersey sales to jump to number one because of this, but it shows the people's belief that we can achieve justice and equality for ALL! The only way I can repay you for the support is to return the favor by donating all the proceeds I receive from my jersey sales back into the communities! I believe in the people, and WE can be the change!
A photo posted by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on
Another sign that his protest is working is the fact that other athletes are starting to join in.
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe took a knee as the anthem played prior to one of her games, 49ers safety Eric Reid joined Kaepernick in protest prior to the game against the Chargers, and Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall showed solidarity during the team's opening night game against the Carolina Panthers.
A successful protest isn't one that makes others feel comfortable. A successful protest isn't one that leaves the status quo in place. A successful protest won't leave you universally beloved.
Colin Kaepernick knows this. The others who join him know this. They continue on, anyway, and any way you measure it — attention brought to an issue, financial support toward a cause — it's clear they're winning.