An African-American preacher is calling on Nike to sever ties with football star Colin Kaepernick, who recently convinced the brand to pull its Betsy-Ross inspired footwear ahead of the Fourth of July.
Rev. Bill Owens, who heads a tiny right-wing provocateur group he calls the Coalition of African-American Pastors, railed against Kaepernick during a Sunday edition of “Fox and Friends,” where, preaching to a receptive audience he accused the former NFL quarterback of promoting “radical anti-American sentiment.”
“We are weighing in because Colin seems to take pleasure in kicking our country,” said Owens.
Kaepernick, 31, sparked backlash earlier this month after a report that he advised Nike to remove its Air Max 1 USA sneaker featuring a “Betsy Ross flag” from the market because consumers might find it offensive. The flag, created during the American Revolution, depicts 13 stars representing the 13 U.S. colonies and are aligned to form a circle.
“The flag, what happened years ago — so why doesn’t he address what’s happening today to Black America?” Owens said of Kaepernick, arguing that “you can’t re-write history” and “what happened, happened.”
“We’re suffering in America” now, he added.
The reverend proceeded to argue that Kaepernick’s activism efforts are sending the wrong sentiment to the younger generation, and should be stopped immediately.
“Why do that to our young people?” Owens said. “Why put that in their minds with your celebrity status? We feel it’s wrong to our young people. And it’s wrong to our country.”
That’s why he and his organization are not only working to get the Betsy Ross shoes re-instated but are pushing Nike to “stand up for America” by kicking Kaepernick to the curb. The group has since laaunched an online campaign seeking 100,000 signatures on its petition, one they hope will put pressure on the athleisure brand.
“We need to address this issue before it goes any further,” Owens told Fox, adding: “we’re tired of our young people being fed this thing about what’s bad about America. America is the greatest country in the world!”
Owens is primarily known for his virulently anti-gay views and is also associated with the anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage. He’s previously attacked former President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their support of marriage equality, and he recently endorsed Roy Moore in his 2017 Alabama race for U.S. Senate, a race the controversial far-right Republican lost after multiple women came forward to accuse the candidate of inappropriate relationships with teenage girls when Moore was already a man in his 30s.
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