The Arizona Cardinals took part in several acts of awareness for social justice issues in America on Sunday during their game against the San Francisco 49ers.
They stayed in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem, the Black hymnal "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and select players put decals on their helmets with messages and names. Quarterback Kyler Murray and nose tackle Corey Peters featured the phrase, “End Racism,” while others put the names of victims of recent police killings such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins took a different route. He picked 19th-century activist Denmark Vesey. When asked about that choice by the media Tuesday, Hopkins provided a history lesson.
"You guys might want to do your history research, but Denmark is definitely somebody who was a leader in African-American culture," Hopkins said. "He led a revolt. He's somebody who stood out in a time and gave his life for something that he believed in; and that was equality. Obviously, his life was taken away for doing what was right. But being from South Carolina and him being from South Carolina, I think it's something that sat with me, resonated with me. Not just now, but my whole life and it's something that they don't teach in history books about people like that."
Vesey worked as a carpenter and was executed in 1822 after allegedly planning a massive slave revolt in South Carolina.
He was a freed slave who allegedly had a plan to free those still in bondage. As many as 9,000 Black people were involved, per Britannica, but authorities were warned of the "rising" and didn’t let Vesey’s plan come to fruition.
Hopkins’ roots in South Carolina, having grown up there and attending Clemson, led to his learning of, and appreciation for, Vesey’s determination to free those in chains. He feels it is a history that does not get the respect it deserves in classrooms, leading to him sharing the name with the world on the back of his helmet. He gave no indication as to whether that would continue throughout the season.