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San Francisco 49ers Practice at UCF

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What a year it’s been for Colin Kaepernick.

From being a NFL quarterback to suddenly becoming a martyr for standing up for his rights, Kaepernick is in the spotlight for giving up his dream. GQ honored Kap’s sacrifices with a cover and named him the “Citizen of the Year.”

But Kap has remained silent for much of the journey, with the occasional tweet about people who are supporting the movement, and GQ kept the trend going. Instead the publication spoke to other voices helping enforce social change.

One voice is J. Cole, who says he met Kaepernick years ago during his break out season when he took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl and almost won.

“You’re talking about a guy in his athletic prime, who’s lived his whole life dreaming about playing football at a level that millions of kids dream to get to. And in his first big season, he takes his team to within five yards of winning a Super Bowl. But then, at some point in time, he becomes conscious about what’s happening in the world. And suddenly something that he’s been doing blindly for his whole life—standing for the national anthem—now feels uncomfortable,” Cole says on Kaepernick’s selflessness.

Tamika Mallory, activist and Women’s March on Washington co-chair, who was recently in the news for wrongly being kicked off a flight  over a seat assignment dispute, also shared her feelings. She thinks that no one should be watching any NFL games right now and should instead be focused on the oppression in America instead, which includes the lyrics of the national anthem.  “…the third verse that Francis Scott Key wrote, which refers directly to us as slaves, and being unable to escape the wrath of slave owners. When I bring that to them, they begin to understand,” she explains.

Other notables like Ava DuVernay and Carmen Perez also give their take on football — and America’s— issue with race and individuality.

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