The state Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday to honor prominent black Americans during Black History Month in February — but only after Republicans blocked it until black Democratic lawmakers agreed to remove the name of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Democratic Rep. David Crowley of Milwaukee, who authored the resolution, called the episode “a textbook example of white privilege” and a “slap in the face.”
“Many of these people that you don’t agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading,” Crowley said on the Assembly floor.
Kaepernick, who was born in Milwaukee, has drawn a firestorm of controversy after he began kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem to protest poor treatment of black Americans.
Supporters say Kaepernick is exercising his First Amendment right to protest what he sees as racial injustice. Critics say he is denigrating the American flag and American principles.
He is one of more than two dozen prominent black Americans proposed by the Legislature’s black lawmakers to be honored during February, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and baseball giant Reggie Jackson.
Crowley said Kaepernick was included, in part, because he donated $25,000 to Milwaukee nonprofit Urban Underground, which works with teens.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said Republicans wouldn’t support the resolution that included Kaepernick “for obvious reasons,” referring to protests during the national anthem.
Democratic Rep. LaKeshia Myers of Milwaukee said Kaepernick “decided to take on ownership of a problem that he saw, which was police brutality.
“Whether you dislike the method that he used, understand that it is a part of America’s DNA — not just African-Americans’ protest,” said Myers, who was the lone vote against the resolution.
But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Steineke said the caucus wanted a resolution free of controversial figures so the entire body could support it.
“I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African-Americans to our state’s history but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together. Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side,” Vos said.
Source: Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Photo Credit: The Beaverton
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