Should Kaepernick Be Compared to MLK? We Asked, You Answered - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Should Kaepernick Be Compared to MLK? We Asked, You Answered

Should Kaepernick Be Compared to MLK? We Asked, You Answered

By Fay Schlesinger


Informed debate is what pushes America forward, so OZY wants to make your voices heard.

By Fay Schlesinger

Last week, I sent an email to readers announcing the season launch of OZY’s hit podcast series The Thread. This season looks into the history of nonviolent resistance, connecting the dots between Martin Luther King Jr., Leo Tolstoy, William Lloyd Garrison and other leaders who have long been eclipsed. I linked this narrative to Colin Kaepernick, the controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who knelt during the National Anthem and sparked a countrywide dialogue.

I asked for your thoughts, and we received numerous letters. Today, we’re highlighting just a few of the insightful responses that came in. OZY isn’t a media company that dishes out what you want to hear. We seek perspectives from across the ideological spectrum because we want to have conversations that stimulate, frustrate and inspire. I encourage you to continue fueling this discussion on OZY’s exclusive Facebook Group, Armchair Pundit, or by emailing


Both people, in my opinion, are standing up for all the people [who] can’t. Because anyone with common sense, White or Black or any other race, knows that if you don’t come from money, you don’t have an easy time trying to get justice or fair treatment in any court or job. Colin knows that to get the public even interested in listening, you have to bring attention to the problem — otherwise it just gets covered up. Look how Republicans are trying to undermine the ongoing investigation into Russians against our country’s safety, and Democrats with elections and security risk. … If poor and middle-class people would do just 1 percent of what they’re getting away with, they’d be locked in prison and jailed or worse for decades. … Should he just sit in his room and protest where no one listens?


If Colin Kaepernick had really cared about his cause, there are many other ways he could have drawn attention to it with his name recognition. No, he wanted to call attention to himself! … He didn’t show respect for the flag that represents his freedom to be a hero and make millions, and he didn’t show intelligent leadership to his own community. He in no way should be put in the same category with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


He isn’t a modern day MLK. He is himself: a young man who sees something wrong with this world and has found a way to bring it to the attention of the masses. Some people can see that and accept it for what it is. Others still want to belittle him because it is easier to point a finger and distract from truths than it is to face those truths and start actively working toward change. You can criticize him. … But you might want to make sure that your criticism is of his true protest. … I cannot speak for other veterans, but I swore in, wore the uniform, carried a weapon for the full length of my contractual service and was honorably discharged. If I can’t speak to what other veterans feel about his protest, what the hell makes people who have never served feel comfortable with speaking to all of our feelings on the matter?



Not even close. … If anything, I’d compare him to Muhammad Ali. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were inspired by Ali when they protested at the Olympics. Smith and Carlos received their medals shoeless but wearing black socks to represent Black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent Black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue-collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads that he described “were for those individuals that were lynched or killed and that no one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the Middle Passage.”… Yet people just remember the gloves.


Respecting the right to protest in a nonviolent way is one of our most important freedoms. It allows for social injustice to be challenged in a public way. That being said, certain standards must be accepted by employees as set by their employers. CK’s right to protest any other time outside of his work environment was not restrained. He could have done interviews, written editorials, made public appearances and marched without constraint. Many people I have talked to were completely mistaken about what the initial issue being protested was. President Trump has fueled these mistaken ideas and created a greater divide. One of the core tenets of peaceful protest is to bring light to a wrong and then bring people’s conscience to a point of action. I fear that this has been so horribly blurred that no public understanding has been created.


If you want to make a difference, take your money to the inner city and start a movement to improve people’s lives. … Young children should be taught to respect our flag. All backgrounds, colors and religious beliefs need to be respected. To signal out one’s biased view is only dividing our country. 


The next time you buy a pair of $200 shoes, just take time to pause and ask yourself: I wonder how the lives are of the kids who made them. The play on words just shows how ignorant the masses are, and athletes are trying for their own stage. Follow the money, and you all will see the reasons for the platform. 


How many stadiums in the U.S. have been funded with public funds? How would this impact the discussion of the exercise of First Amendment rights? While the NFL players are employed by a private business, they are playing in stadiums funded by public money. … It’s one thing to attempt to suppress freedom of speech and expression in a private workplace. It’s another issue to attempt to suppress freedom of speech and expression in a stadium funded using public funds.


It’s been said that one’s animosity to a perceived injustice, without knowing the facts, is a knee-jerk reaction. … There have been innocent people of all races killed by police. Any time this happens, it should be a concern to the general public, and not along racial lines. However, the facts need to be known before anyone can make an educated decision, and each instance is different. I think MLK, if he were alive today, would give both sides a well-deserved lesson. You’re searching for right vs. wrong, but in many cases, all you’ll find are shades of guilt.

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