Former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s ex-coach has come out in support of the athlete’s protests against Black oppression during last year’s NFL season.
Kaepernick is listed in the icons category of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, which requested write-ups from the people the honorees admire. For now-free agent Kaepernick, that meant having University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh sing his praises.
“Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem,” Harbaugh wrote of Kaepernick’s sitting and then kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner” in 2016. “At times in our nation’s history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.”
Reports surfaced in March that Kaepernick would be ending his protest at the beginning of the 2017 NFL season to avoid distracting from the “positive change he believes has been created.” Kaepernick became a free agent soon after.
“Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act,” Harbaugh wrote. “I also applaud Colin for the courage he has demonstrated in exercising his guaranteed right of free speech. His willingness to take a position at personal cost is now part of our American story.
“How lucky for us all and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.”
Other celebrities included on the Time 100 list are Viola Davis for her embodiment of “the high-wire rewards of hard work and a dream,” according to Meryl Streep, icon Congressman John Lewis, to whom Sen. Cory Booker said he owes “inexpressible gratitude” and pioneer Chance the Rapper, whom Common remembered giving advice to years ago. John Legend, Simone Biles, Ava DuVernay, LeBron James and Mauritanian politician Biram Dah Abeid are among the other honorees.