A resolution to celebrate Black History Month in Wisconsin hit a snag before passing Tuesday when Republican lawmakers commanded the name of activist and free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick be removed from the measure. Now Democratic legislators in the GOP-dominated body have tried and failed in their efforts to have it passed with the athlete included.
Rep. David Crowley of Milwaukee’s resolution was passed by the state Assembly Feb. 12, but it didn’t go through without the Legislature’s Black Caucus having to remove Kaepernick’s name from the list of 24 honorees, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Crowley described the change as a “slap in the face” and “a textbook example of white privilege.”
“It is critical for this body to recognize the Black Caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward,” Crowley, who is Black, said on the Assembly floor. “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.”
Crowley noted he was grateful that it passed but lamented having “to get the blessing of all of my white counterparts.”
As for why Republican lawmakers decided against including the Milwaukee-born football star on the list, no one directly explained why.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said GOP members wouldn’t back one that included the ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback “for obvious reasons.” Those reasons are that Kaepernick, who was chosen for inclusion because he gifted $25,000 to Milwaukee nonprofit Urban Underground, sat and then kneeled during pregame performances of the national anthem in the 2016-2017 NFL season to protest the police killings of Black Americans and overall oppression of the community.
Republicans had issued a counter-proposal to replace Kaepernick and Milwaukee Rev. Greg Lewis with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Vel Phillips, who served as Secretary of State. Dems opposed and blocked a vote on the proposal.
However, House Democrats announced on Feb. 13 they’ll amend the proposal to have Kaepernick’s name back on the resolution. The measure failed Wednesday when Republican senators passed a Black History Month resolution without Kaepernick’s name or any Democratic support after hours of debate.
“This year all of the sudden for the first time we’ve been told that we have to have permission to determine who we want to honor for Black History Month,” the Journal Sentinel reported Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee said on the Senate floor. “I have not seen it when we’ve honored any other group, any other thing.”
Taylor, who is Black, added that white Republicans have asserted “they’re best suited to decide for African-Americans what we should value, who we should honor.” She also said leading Black figures and civil rights activists who are now praised — including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks — sparked controversy during the time periods when they were active.
“The people on the other side of Harriet Tubman, that’s you today,” Taylor said to silent GOP lawmakers.