A Black History Month resolution drafted by the state Legislative Black Caucus faced backlash Tuesday after it honored Colin Kaepernick for his activism.
The resolution designated February as Black History Month and recognized “the significant contributions people of African descent have made, to the foundation, growth and development of our country and state,” according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
The list included nearly 30 figures, including Lucien H. Palmer, the first African American to hold a seat in the Wisconsin Assembly, and Condoleezza Rice, the first and only female National Security Advisor and first African American female Secretary of State.
But Milwaukee-native and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s inclusion was seen as divisive and controversial by Republican lawmakers.
Starting in 2016, Kaepernick remained seated during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial injustice and police brutality.
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“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick said of his pregame protest. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The state Legislative Black Caucus included Kaepernick on the list because of his fight to “raise attention to racial injustice and systemic oppression.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Kaepernick’s inclusion would impede the two parties from working together.
“We would hope they would have more consideration to say, let’s look at finding ways to work together, rather than always looking at ways to drive us apart,” Vos said, according to WPR.
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Republican lawmakers attempted to pass their own version of the resolution with Kaepernick and Milwaukee Rev. Greg Lewis’ names omitted. Following an hour of debate, Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement to pass the original resolution with just Kaepernick’s name removed.
In an email sent to The Badger Herald, chairman of the state Legislative Black Caucus Rep. David Crowely, D-Milwaukee, said his white colleagues not voting on the Caucus’ resolution as it was drafted was a “textbook example of white privilege.”
“In obsessing over the form Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Wisconsin Republicans have forgotten that our country was built on protest and neglected its purpose,” Crowley said. “Wisconsin is one of the worst states to raise a Black family, we remain steadfast in our commitment to working toward solutions on the most pressing issues impacting Black families.”
The Black Caucus decided to change its vote to “No” following the changes to the resolution.