My initial reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem, I was surprised, surprised he took such a strong stand. I thought that it was an absolute display of reverence. We’re so used to athletes making this much money and having this image. And you protect the image and you protect your money. And he didn’t care about those things. I hope the young people that were watching can understand the volume of a silent protest. When Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand for the national anthem in 2016, he said it was a statement of support for oppressed people of color. It was a direct response to police brutality against African Americans. Kaepernick’s silent protest and the movement that came after started a national debate. A lot of people said Kaepernick was just exercising his right to freedom of speech. Other people, including President Trump and eventually the NFL, said kneeling during the anthem was disrespectful. But Kaepernick hasn’t backed down and his protest follows a long history of black athletes making statements against injustice. In 1967, Mohammed Ali was stripped of his heavy weight title after refusing to serve in the Vietnam War. He said he didn’t want to go to war for a country that didn’t respect him. In 1968, Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists while wearing black gloves on the podium during the anthem to protest the treatment of black people in America. All of these people used their voices to shed light on an issue, and all of them inadvertently became the center of a heated debate. After the 2016 season, Kaepernick became a free agent. And to date he has not been signed by another team. Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s global ad campaign while still in a legal battle with the NFL. In honor of Black History Month, take a moment to remember everyone, everyone who has spoken up, or who’s kneeled down, even when it wasn’t popular.