Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s jersey he wore while protesting the National Anthem in 2016 were donated to the Smithsonian.
Harry Edwards, a sociologist and a long-time San Francisco 49ers advisor, reached out to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,'” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.'”
After ending his protest, Kaepernick has found other ways to get his message across.
Earlier this month, the free agent quarterback brought his Know Your Rights Camp to Chicago, in which over 200 campers attended workshop on topics such as financial literacy, nutrition and how to deal with law enforcement among others. A few months earlier, in January, Kaepernick donated $25,000 to a Chicago non-profit organization that shares his vision for helping communities help themselves. At the end of the camp, the participants were given a backpack that consisted of ancestry kits and a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick remains unsigned after well-known quarterback busts as Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Blaine Gabbert, who lost his starting job to Kaepernick, have signed free agent deals this offseason.
Last week, conflicting reports surfaced saying that Kaepernick, 29, had a list of demands on where he wanted to play along with a report saying that he cared more about activism than football.
“If they are stupid enough to make a martyr out of Kaep, it’s going to get even more interesting,” Edwards said.
Edwards believes that Kaepernick has continued a conversation that has historically made Americans uncomfortable.
“As validated as past struggles have been, it is unequivocally certain that 25, 35, 45 years from now, these battles will still be fought, but probably under different ideological auspices by a different generation of athletes,” Edwards said. “The essential task will be the same: to achieve that more perfect union…using sports not just to leverage that, but to project and demonstrate that. This is why this struggle is so important. It’s a window on who we are as a society.”