Colin Kaepernick is an American civil rights activist and former football quarterback. He played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League (NFL). In 2016, he knelt during the national anthem at the start of NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
In the 49ers’ third preseason game in 2016, Kaepernick sat during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to the game, rather than stand as is customary, as a protest against racial injustice, police brutality and systematic oppression in the country. The following week, and throughout the regular season, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem. The protests received highly polarized reactions, with some praising him and his stand against racism and others denouncing the protests. The actions resulted in a wider protest movement, which intensified in September 2017 after President Donald Trump said that NFL owners should “fire” players who protest during the national anthem. Kaepernick became a free agent after the season and remained unsigned, which numerous analysts and observers have attributed to political reasons. In November 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. Kaepernick withdrew the grievance in February 2019 after reaching a confidential settlement with the NFL. His protests received renewed attention in 2020 amid the George Floyd protests against police brutality and racism, but he remains unsigned by any professional football team.