Buffalo Pastor Explains Why He Supports Colin Kaepernic & Why ‘Resistance’ Works!
'The Challenger Community News' Publication posted an Editorial in a recent publication that's worthy of recognition, especially for those who either disagree, don't understand, or know nothing about San Francisco 49er's Quarterback Colin Kaepernic's Protest of the American Flag / National Anthem. Many believe Colin Kaepernic's Protest is directed at our Military while that could not be further from the truth.
Kaepernic's 'RESISTANCE' to Saluting the Flag, while the National Anthem plays at the beginning of every NFL Game, is applauded by a Local Buffalo Pastor ... namely, Pastor George Nicholas. (Pastor Nicholas is the Senior Pastor at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church-Buffalo, NY)
Pastor Nicholas was practically faced with the exact same situation Colin Kaepernic faces, regarding his (their) being 'fed up' and 'opposed' to what was going on around him (them), which was bigger and even more important to both men than their Sports Careers.
Pastor George Explains in this MUST READ ESSAY / EDITORIAL:
The recent controversy regarding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernic decision to make a statement during the national anthem has spurred some very important conversations. It was his intention to draw attention to the rash of African-Americans who are killed by law enforcement. In addition is also brought attention to the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner as well as the meaning of American symbols which bring pride to most but pain to many who have suffered from generations of racism. One critique of Kaepernic’s actions is what will it accomplish? The most important question is what will be gained for the people when prominent individuals confront the hypocrisy of the celebration of the symbols of freedom in this nation. I will attempt to add context to this by sharing my story.
By the grace of God I was blessed to have abnormal running ability. As a result I had the good fortune of being a member of The Ohio State University’s track team. While at OSU I excelled by breaking school records, becoming Big Ten Champion, All-American and participant in the 1984 Olympic trials. My achievements gave me notoriety on a campus in love with athletics. African-American students who excelled on the athletic fields were given an “exceptional negro” status, not because of scholarship but because of athletic prowess. In 1985 I was going into my senior year with must anticipation and adulation from the OSU community. Simultaneously, our brothers and sisters in the nation of South African were fighting for their freedom against the oppressive apartheid regime. While most of the world renounced the racist South African government, the Reagan administration along with American corporate interests stood with oppression and not justice for all. Comrades in the struggle joined Mandela and Tutu calling for America to divest from businesses doing profiting from apartheid regime. As a result many students began to demand their institutes of higher learning divest all their money from businesses who partnered with South Africa. When confronted by student activists about the $7 million Ohio State invested in South African, the president and trustees replied that they would invest wherever that got the best profit regardless of human rights. When I learned about this I became outraged by the position of the university that I proudly represented on the track took towards people who looked like me. I asked myself how can I remain silent in the midst of such callous indifference to the suffering of my people?
That weekend we had a meet scheduled at home against Penn State and I knew I had to do something. So with brashness and recklessness of a 21 year old I made up my mind, it was my time to be heard. So as they played the national anthem before the meet, I walked to the middle of the track and kneeled with my arms behind my back like those who were imprisoned by the apartheid system. I kneeled with my back to the flag, just as America had turned their back to those who suffering in South Africa. Protest alone is ineffective without information. So as I kneeled my friends passed out fliers explaining the protest and urging support for divestment. Refusal to stand was not enough for me; it had to be connected with resistance in the form of refusal to continue to represent those who hate my people. After the national anthem my coach asked me if I intended to run, as a sign of resistance I said no. Instead of taking my place at the starting line, I silently sat off the field of battle; I had a greater purpose that day. My refusal to run put into jeopardy my track career. I was a senior and did not have many more races to run. I was the star of the team and my refusal to run would hurt others. I could even face sanctions and the loss of my scholarship; I had a greater purpose.
So what good did this do? As a result a student movement was formed in support of divestment. As a result the Black law students came together to develop a response to the university on why OSU should divest. As a result a coalition was built that included the local union that represented university employees who stood in solidarity with us. As a result African-American Ohio state legislatures began to demand that OSU divest out of South Africa. As a result students became aware of the atrocities of apartheid and how American businesses profited off of the suffering of African people. As a result graduate economics and business students showed how OSU could divest and not lose money. As a result after many protest, a near brawl at a trustee meeting, threats to my safety and a lengthy suspension victory was won. That spring Ohio State University divested every dollar from businesses that did business in South Africa.
I tell this story to show that resistance works. I received a great education at Ohio State during this process, the power of resistance. I applaud Colin Kaepernick and others who have decided to take a stand by taking a knee. However, now is the time to develop a demand and build a coalition. Protest brings attention, but the hard work is in securing allies and building a coalition for change. In order to win we must be able to resist. The truth is nobody cares if these athletes don’t stand for the national anthem, they can live with that. Resistance is found in the question that my coached asked me that day, “Are you going to run?” Resistance happens not only when we refuse to salute the flag, but when we refuse to keep playing the game. Systemic racism continues and will continue whether we stand or sit for the national anthem as long as money is being made. However things will change when the African-American athlete resists and refuse to play. What would Sunday look like if the great African-American football gladiators resisted by taking a knee for all four quarters until our people are safe from state sponsored executions? The protests have been done, now it is time for us to resist until the justice, safety and liberation is won for all of our people.
PASTOR GEORGE'S VIEW ON "EXTREME POLICE ACTIONS":