Matt Maiocco, NBC Sports, December 23, 2022
Six years ago, Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and others took a knee to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Now, the protest is commemorated at the 49ers Museum in an exhibit that opened this week at Levi’s Stadium.
“It’s important that a moment like Kaepernick’s protest is included because it’s something that most of the people who come to the museum, at least for the next couple of years, will have lived through,” said Dr. Damion Thomas of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The larger exhibit, entitled, “The Long Game, Sports & Social Justice in the Bay Area,” examines five stories that shed light on sexism, housing and racial discrimination, including:
— Willie Mays’ fight against housing discrimination in San Francisco;
— Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ silent 1968 protest on the Olympic podium in Mexico City;
— The diversification of professional sports team leadership starting with Bill Russell as the first post-segregation Black head coach of a major professional sports team;
— Brandi Chastain’s goal that won the United States the 1999 Women’s World Cup in the broader context of Title IX and gender issues.
Dr. Thomas was a member of the seven-person “Long Game” committee, which includes former 49ers players Keena Turner and Antoine Bethea, and sociologist and civil rights activist Dr. Harry Edwards.
“When people come to this exhibition, what I hope they take away is that sports matter, and they matter far beyond the playing field,” Dr. Thomas said. “The aim of this exhibition is to inspire people. We want people to see the change, the profound change is possible, but it takes people willing to take stands.