The president of the NAACP on Thursday compared Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem to Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955.
“It’s a lofty name, but it’s not a stretch,’’ Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, told USA TODAY Sports of comparing the San Francisco 49ers quarterback to the civil rights activist. “We’ll let history be the judge, how consequential Kaepernick’s action is.’’
The success of Kaepernick’s protest against social injustice, Brooks suggested, hinges on the next steps the quarterback takes — and the NAACP is among those hoping to work with Kaepernick. Brooks said the NAACP has reached out to Kaepernick but not spoken to him directly, and Rev. Jesse Jackson told USA TODAY Sports he has spoken to Kaepernick’s manager and hopes to speak with the quarterback directly, too.
Kaepernick, who has said he plans to take the protest “a step further,” said on Wednesday he has met and talked with different activists in communities around the country.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations about how to address this issue practically and with reasonable solutions that we feel can be implemented,’’ he said, “whether it’s legislation or in the communities to make sure that these changes are happening.’’
A critical step will be using Kaepernick’s protest as a way to encourage people to vote, according to Brooks.
“There is a real ambivalence and civic agnosticism when it comes to the vote,’’ he said. “What we’re endeavoring to do is to remind people that all the things people are protesting in the streets are directly impacted by state and municipal elections.’’
If Kaepernick wants to succeed at affecting change, Brooks added, the quarterback can’t do it alone.
“There’s been no movement in this country that has succeeded upon the heroism of any one individual,’’ Brooks said, “but rather the loyal, committed, concerted and sustained action of a group of people. So you have to partner.”