Contact: Christy Setzer 202-506-6421
Fritz Pollard Alliance Expresses Support for Social Activism Among Professional Athletes
FPA’s Wooten, Carson: “If we were still playing today, we would be joining them.”
Washington, DC—The Fritz Pollard Alliance today released the statement of its Chairman John Wooten and Executive Director Harry Carson in support of the efforts of NFL players, sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who have over the course of the past few weeks demonstrated their concern and frustration about racial inequities in the criminal justice system, particularly the senseless deaths of African Americans at the hands of rogue police officers. The Fritz Pollard Alliance is an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of National Football League (“NFL”) teams.
Said Wooten and Carson:
“While Americans of all races and from all walks of life have expressed different opinions on the athletes’ chosen form of protest, nobody who believes in the foundational ideals of our democracy can question their right to protest. We support their right to protest, and if we were still playing today, we would be joining them.
“Professional athletes may live lives that differ in many ways from those of other Americans, but they are human beings, with joys and pains and emotions like everyone else. We cannot and should not ask them to check what makes them human at the stadium or locker room door. Indeed, athletes have led the nation in confronting social inequity in some of our nation’s darkest days. Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King…. and the list goes on. We greatly admire athletes for their leadership on the field and on the court, and we must accept and embrace the power of their leadership off the field and off the court.
“Colin Kaepernick has forced a national conversation, and good is coming from it- whether it’s the 49ers Foundation contributing $1 million to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve, or the Green Bay Packers donating several hundred thousand dollars to community organizations. More than the monetary impact, though, minds are opening, views are being exchanged, and perspectives are changing.
“Indeed, Kaepernick has changed his own position, concluding, after speaking with former Green-Beret Nate Boyer, that he should kneel, rather than sit, during the national anthem, to show that he means no disrespect to the military. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who attended college with Kaepernick and was one of the first people to publicly support his protest, recently sat down with the Denver Police Chief Robert White to discuss the state of police / community relations in their city.
“Conversations such as the one between Kaepernick and Boyer and the one between Marshall and White – people from different backgrounds with different strongly held beliefs – are what make America great. And sometimes it takes protest that some find uncomfortable to spark those conversations.
“This is freedom. This is democracy. It is at the core of the nation we love.”
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Christy Setzer, President
New Heights Communications
(202) 506-6421 office
(617) 512-7572 cell