ATHLETES AGAINST RACISM
As the 2017 NFL season advances, I continue to support the players who take a knee in support of civil rights and solidarity, and laud the athletes who have been taking a stand against racism and bigotry since the 1800s. Here are a few of those memorable moments and faces.
In 1908 Johnson became the first black world heavyweight boxing champ. In 1910, he fought the undefeated white boxer James Jeffries, who said he was "going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro." By the 15th round, Johnson was named the champion.
While Hitler attempted to use the 1936 Berlin Olympics to advertise the idea that the Aryan race was superior to others, track and field star Owens won four gold medals.
Robinson was the first professional black baseball player in 1947. He received death threats from opposing fans and endured unnecessary rough play by certain teams. He never fought back on the field, but always showed up and let his game speak for itself. He became a face of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s.
The champion boxer refused to be drafted in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War in 1966 because he said h didn't have any "quarrel" with Vietnam.He was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion charges and had to give up boxing as a result.
Ashe, still the only black man to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open, was a spokesman for the Civil Rights Movement. He also pushed for equality for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. (he was arrested in ’92 for protesting the U.S. immigration policy toward Haiti) and was an advocate for HIV-awareness before his death from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993.
The wrestler is credited with ending racial segregation in his sport after he fought in the first racially-mixed wrestling match in Atlanta in 1970. A few years early, in 1962, he'd became the first black person to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
After Smith won gold and Carlos won bronze for the 200 meter-dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, the two American athletes raised their fists in the name of black equality and against discrimination during the national anthem portion of the medal ceremony. Australian runner, Peter Norman (left), who won the silver medal, wore an OPHR (Olympic Project for Human Rights) badge during the medal ceremony in solidarity with them.
In 2001, the tennis player stopped competing in the BNP Paribas Open after the crowd yelled racial slurs at Williams and her sister Venus. The boycott lasted 14 years.
NBA star LeBron James tweeted this photo of himself and his Miami Heat teammates in hoodies in 2012 after the killing of black teen Trayvon Martin, who had on a hooded sweatshirt when he was shot by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida.
In 2013, AC Milan soccer player, Kevin-Prince Boateng, walked off the field after the crowd chanted racial slurs at a lower-tier Italian club. During a later game, the words “AC MILAN AGAINST RACISM" could be seen on the back of his jersey.
In 2010, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns wore “Los Suns” jerseys in recognition of their Hispanic fans. This was supposedly a protest against the anti-immigration laws in Arizona, and came after the state passed a law making it easier for police to ID and detain immigrants.
When Barcelona soccer player Dani Alves (right, in red) had a banana thrown at him in a racist taunt during a game, he picked it up and ate it before taking a corner kick. Several other athletes, including Argentina soccer player Sergio Aguero (far left) and Brazil soccer player, Marta (right), showed their solidarity by posting photos of themselves eating bananas.
After former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught expressing racist comments in 2014, the basketball team wore their warm-up uniforms inside-out, covering the Clippers logo.
In 2014, five NFL players on the Rams, including Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin, jogged onto the field for pregame introductions with the “don’t shoot” gesture in support of protesters in Ferguson, Mo., following the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Witnesses said Brown had his hands up before he was shot by a white police officer.
In 2016, San Francisco 49ers former quarterback Colin Kaepernick was one of the first to take a knee during the national anthem before an NFL game. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." Since Kaepernick's initial protest, many others, including around 200 NFL players, have also decided to take a knee, sit or raised their fists during the national anthem at sporting events.