Group of black pastors urges Nike to cut ties with Colin Kaepernick

July 14, 2019

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick may be a celebrity black activist, but he certainly doesn’t speak for the African American community at large.

Kaepernick represents “fringe opinions” from the far left, according to minority groups like the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), who called on Nike Thursday to sever its relationship with the former NFL star, Breitbart reported.

Backlash from the black community

CAAP was responding to Nike’s decision to pull a shoe from its product line that depicted a Betsy Ross flag on the heel, The Federalist reports. Kaepernick complained to company executives that the footwear — a Fourth of July special edition Nike Air Max 1 Quick Strike — was offensive because of its “connection to an era of slavery.”

Rev. William Owens, CAAP’s president and a civil rights leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that Kaepernick’s controversial opinions are hardly representative of his community.

“It has been clear for a long time that Colin Kaepernick’s views represent hard-left anti-American politics,” Owens told Breitbart. “They don’t represent most Americans, and they don’t reflect the outlook of most African Americans.”

He went on: “By caving to Mr. Kaepernick’s negative opinions of America, the Founding Fathers, and the woman who designed the first flag, Nike has aligned itself with a radical anti-American viewpoint.”

Corporate-sponsored activist

Kaepernick sparked controversy during the NFL’s 2016 preseason when he decided to take a knee during the pregame playing of the National Anthem. He later said that he refused to stand for the anthem to protest social inequality and police violence against minorities in America.

The polarizing athlete sued the NFL in 2017 after he went unsigned by the league’s 32 teams, though he withdrew his collusion case against NFL owners in February after they agreed to pay him a portion of a $10 million settlement, according to Sports Illustrated. However, Kaepernick’s real payday came when Nike decided to make the unemployed athlete the face of its “Just Do It” 30th-anniversary marketing campaign.

Owens believes that Nike lost all of its credibility once it started paying Kaepernick to be a corporate-sponsored activist.

“There was a time when no one would have questioned that Nike was part of Team USA,” he said. “But now, they seem more interested in divisive politics than American athletes or values.”


In addition to publicly condemning Nike’s relationship with Kaepernick, CAAP has circulated a petition calling on the sportswear giant to part ways with Kaepernick and bring back a special run of the Betsy Ross shoe. The religious organization asked that proceeds from its proposal go to benefit veterans groups and nonprofits that assist military families.

“Many find Mr. Kaepernick’s positions to be ill-informed and offensive, especially to veterans and others who have served this country,” Owens told Breitbart. “How can we support a company that caters to this kind of thinking?”

The CAAP’s petition, addressed to Nike CEO Mark Parker, states that Kaepernick’s opinions are “ill-informed.” His words and deeds are at odds with the views of a past generation of equal rights advocates, the petition explains:

We represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And we agree that Mr. Kaepernick’s views on America and the flag are fringe opinions, not shared by any of us…especially the African Americans who marched against segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Mr. Kaepernick does not represent us,” the petition concludes. “Removing the Betsy Ross flag shoes at his behest implies that your company shares his negative view of America, its founders, and the woman who designed the first flag.”


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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.