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June 09, 2017

Another Bright Star Snuffed Out in Senseless Gun Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 7, 2017

 

Another Bright Star Snuffed Out in Senseless Gun Violence

A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.


 

Thvery founding of our nation was based on protest – “taxation without representation is tyranny.”  Labor protests led to the elimination of child labor and more human labor laws.  Women’s protests led to the 19th Amendment enabling women to vote without discrimination.  Civil rights protests led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Open Housing Act. Rose Parks sat down on a bus – and now has a statue in the nation’s Capitol - that enabled all Americans to stand a little taller.  Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest “out of control police misconduct” that led to greater awareness, conversations and actions that in many instances correct these wrongs.  Protests are as American as apple pie, yet now it appears that Mr. Kaepernick is being punished by the NFL, its teams, management and owners for taking a courageous and correct stand.
The NFL has been an industry leader in some important ways relative to race relations.  It has long welcomed African American players into the league and on teams.  It has slowly, but surely, broadened job opportunities for African Americans along the sidelines as coaches and in front offices.  While it still lacks African Americans ownership, it did creatively insist that ownership and management interview at least three potential candidates, including at least one minority, for all Head Coaching vacancies.   
Therefore it appears unseemly that a recent NFL star quarterback, with 72 touchdowns, who led a team to the Super Bowl, at the age of 29, is being “whiteballed” by NFL owners and management.  Is the NFL telling its fans that Colin Kaepernick no longer is qualified to be on one of the NFL’s 32 teams even as a backup quarterback?  Boxing “whiteballed” Muhammad Ali whose religious convictions led him to protest and refuse service in an immoral and unjust war in Vietnam at the height of his boxing career, costing him millions of dollars and denied us the privilege of seeing him fight in what should have been is prime years of entertainment.  Major League Baseball “whiteballed” Curt Flood, costing him his career, yet every professional athlete owes a debt of gratitude to Curt Flood’s actions which led to free agency for virtually all professional athletes.  And now it appears that the NFL is doing the same thing to Colin Kaepernick and all football fans of conscience should engage in protest against this unjust action.
Ability is one thing.  Race is another.  NFL teams are not even interviewing him much less putting him through drills or giving him a tryout!  New York Giants Owner John Mara stated their team would not consider signing Mr. Kaepernick because “some fans” said they would never come to another game if they did. This seems especially ironic since the Giants signed kicker Josh Brown to a new contract after he was arrested for domestic violence and kept him on the team last year even after being suspended for domestic violence.  Mr. Kaepernick has been a model player who has not done anything illegal! There seems to be a double standard in this picture.
In fact, over the past year, Mr. Kaepernick has donated 60 tons of food to Somalia, $50,000 to Meals on Wheels, $10,000 per month to Civil Rights Advocacy that supports Law Enforcement Community Programs, $1 Million to BlackLivesMatter, created and funded “Know Your Rights” camps for disenfranchised urban youth, and personally distributed suits and dress apparel outside parole offices to individuals looking to improve their lives. Yet it appears his character and actions are possibly in question as teams have so far been reluctant to even consider hiring him.
Those who would question his decision to kneel during the National Anthem last season should consider the following: 1) he was able to do so because of the very freedoms that the flag represents; 2) his actions in no way harmed another human being; 3) he has donated multi-thousands of dollars to support police and military programs; 4) his silent protest raised awareness of ongoing challenges in our world that are now being discussed in productive ways to help strengthen racial and civic relations; and 5) because he was able to help ignite this important conversation last season, he will no longer kneel during the anthem this season.
It is our sincere hope that Mr. Kaepernick is able to continue his NFL career, but until he is given a fair and equitable chance to prove his ability and qualifications, we will continue to protest his exclusion, including at NFL games during the 2017 seasonThe very founding of our nation was based on protest – “taxation without representation is tyranny.”  Labor protests led to the elimination of child labor and more human labor laws.  Women’s protests led to the 19th Amendment enabling women to vote without discrimination.  Civil rights protests led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Open Housing Act. Rose Parks sat down on a bus – and now has a statue in the nation’s Capitol - that enabled all Americans to stand a little taller.  Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest “out of control police misconduct” that led to greater awareness, conversations and actions that in many instances correct these wrongs.  Protests are as American as apple pie, yet now it appears that Mr. Kaepernick is being punished by the NFL, its teams, management and owners for taking a courageous and correct standThe NFL has been an industry leader in some important ways relative to race relations.  It has long welcomed African American players into the league and on teams.  It has slowly, but surely, broadened job opportunities for African Americans along the sidelines as coaches and in front offices.  While it still lacks African Americans ownership, it did creatively insist that ownership and management interview at least three potential candidates, including at least one minority, for all Head Coaching vacancies.   

 

Our devastated hearts and anguished prayers go out to Ra Joy and his family.

 

Mr. Joy’s 23-year-old son, Xavier, was shot and killed last night, about a block from the University of Chicago – over a cell phone.

 

This madness has to stop.

 

A few days ago, Mr. Joy, executive director of CHANGE Illinois, was at Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters to celebrate passage of Automatic Voter Registration in Illinois, a huge step in the ongoing struggle to democratize democracy.

 

Mr. Joy and his organization played a crucial role in getting the bill passed. Mr. Joy has dedicated his life to making the state, the country and the world better for everyone. His son was a bright light. Xavier, graduated from Whitney Young High School and then went on to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he played on the football team. He returned to Chicago to teach underserved children math and reading.

 

None of us is exempt from these tragedies as long as the values of so many around us are wrapped and warped with violence and greed. One of the central messages of Easter remains – you don’t have to be guilty to be killed in a sick society.

 

We pray for relief for the Joy family and that they will hold on until they hear God’s still voice say, well done. Xavier lived a short, meaningful life. Surly as it is dark now, the morning will come.

 

 

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Founder and President

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Contacts: Don Terry

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