In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson created Black History Week to celebrate the accomplishments of Blacks in America and the African diaspora. Decades later, we now celebrate Black History Month, and Black Americans across America and Canada celebrate the accomplishments of Black men and women in culture and history.
It is something that was Black-created and Black-owned. However, in the state of Wisconsin, White lawmakers have decided who Black people can celebrate — and that Colin Kaepernick is not one of them.
It all started with a 2019 Black History Month resolution put forth by Black lawmakers in the Wisconsin State Legislature. That resolution sought to honor Wisconsin natives who have done notable deeds in the Black community. But White Republican lawmakers took issue with Kaepernick, who was born in Milwaukee, being a part of that resolution. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it was Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke who stated that Republicans in the state house would not support Kaepernick as part of the Black History Month resolution “for obvious reasons.”
Those reasons include Kaepernick’s stance on police brutality and taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. As a result, Black lawmakers were forced to remove Kaepernick’s name from the resolution in order to get it passed for Black History Month. According to state Rep. David Crowley, a Democrat and Black caucus member, it was “a textbook example of White privilege” and a “slap in the face.”
Crowley said he had to get the blessing of all of his White counterparts before the lawmakers finally passed the revised Black History resolution with Kaepernick’s name removed. Crowley said on the floor of the state assembly, “It is critical for this body to recognize the Black caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward. Many of these people that you don’t agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading.”
In response, White Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that caucus members wanted a resolution that was free of controversial figures so that the entire body could support it.
“I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African Americans to our state’s history but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together,” Vos added. “Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side.”