MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans erased any mention of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick from a resolution recognizing Black History Month on Tuesday, saying he’s too controversial to be included in a list of influential black leaders.
February is Black History Month. The Legislature’s black caucus had proposed a resolution honoring a number of black leaders, including Kaepernick.
That didn’t go over well with the GOP. Republican leaders drafted their own resolution that didn’t include Kaepernick but did add Mandela Barnes, the state’s first black lieutenant governor, and Vel Phillips, the state’s first black secretary of state.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, who is white, told reporters during a news conference Tuesday that Kaepernick was left off the list “for obvious reasons.” He later added that Kaepernick was a controversial figure.
Kaepernick, who was born in Wisconsin and used to play for the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial inequality. President Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed players who kneel during the anthem.
Wisconsin Republicans tried to bring their resolution excluding Kaepernick to the floor but fell short of the two-thirds majority they needed after all the chamber’s Democrats voted against the move.
Republicans said they tried to honor black history and moved on to another bill. Rep. David Crowley, chairman of the Legislature’s black caucus, walked out of the chamber. He told a reporter in the foyer that black people should be allowed to choose the leaders they want to honor and Kaepernick is “making history.”
Republicans later added the black caucus’ resolution to the agenda, then amended it to delete Kaepernick’s name on a 61-34 party-line vote. That put Democrats in an awkward position — deciding whether to oppose their own resolution or adopt it without Kaepernick.
After that vote, Crowley said many see Kaepernick as unpatriotic without truly knowing him. He said deleting Kaepernick’s name is a “textbook example of white privilege” and that he shouldn’t need to get permission from white lawmakers to put together a list of black leaders.
None of the Assembly Republicans are black and none defended deleting Kaepernick’s name on the floor.