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by Kathryn Loggins

Tommy Walker and Ross Hockrow, USA 2022

This timely documentary explores the life of Colin Kaepernick, an NFL Quarterback who sparked a massive debate in 2016 when he took a knee on the sideline of the football field during the playing of the national anthem. At the time, this gesture was considered by many to be the most un-patriotic thing anyone could do and Kaepernick was labeled as a dissenter and received a huge backlash. He was trying to bring awareness to the issues of police brutality and have that be a topic of conversation on a national stage, but because of the tensions that were building in America on the eve of a huge election, his peaceful gesture was unfairly misinterpreted and the man himself suffered gross mistreatment.

The story is told through interviews of mostly and intentionally Black reporters, coaches, and even one adoption specialist. Colin Kaepernick is a biracial man, who was adopted into and raised by a white family. His personal relationship with race is complicated, but in his protest, he felt the call to stand with his Black brothers and sisters and give them a platform they reserved. Kaepernick is never interviewed for the film, but the filmmakers deftly give him a voice through archival interviews he gave about his protest at the time. One of the fascinating revelations in the film is that he actually took a knee, because of a conversation he had with an ex-NFL player and member of the Green Beret, Nate Boyer. He had reached out to Kaepernick to ask him why he was sitting down during the national anthem, the first stage of Kaepernick's protest. Boyer suggested that if he felt the urge to protest so strongly that taking a knee would be the most respectful gesture in the eyes of the military. He couldn’t have known then how this suggestion led to one of the most recognizable images of global protest. In 2022 seeing athletes kneel during the national anthem is almost commonplace, though still debated, and it was Kaepernick who stepped out first and paved the way for so many to follow in his footsteps. (KL)