Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is too controversial to be considered on a list of influential black leaders, Republican Wisconsin lawmakers determined as legislators attempted to pass a resolution recognizing Black History Month.
The state legislature’s black caucus proposed a resolution Tuesday honoring several black leaders, including the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Republican leaders fired back and drafted their own resolution – one that didn’t include Kaepernick but did mention Mandela Barnes and Vel Phillips. Barnes was the state’s first black lieutenant governor and Phillips was the state’s first black secretary of state.
In defense of omitting Kaepernick, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke told reporters he was left off the list for “obvious reasons” and later explained he believed him to be a controversial figure.
Republican lawmakers attempted to bring their resolution to the floor, but Democrats voted against the move. Rep. David Crowley, chairman of the black caucus, walked out of the chamber and told a reporter black people should be able to choose the leaders they want to honor, including Kaepernick.
“It is critical for this body to recognize the black caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward,” Crowley said on the floor, according to the Journal Sentinel. “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.”
According to the newspaper, Crowley said Kaepernick’s name was added because of his work with a Milwaukee nonprofit. Kaepernick reportedly donated $25,000 to Urban Underground, which helps build safe communities for teens.
Republicans then added the black caucus’ name to the agenda and amended it to remove the former NFL star’s name on a 61-34 party-line vote. The resolution ended up passing and now heads to the Senate without Kaepernick’s name on it.
Crowley said many people see Kaepernick as unpatriotic without knowing him. He called removing Kaepernick’s name from the resolution a “textbook example of white privilege” and he shouldn’t have to get permission from white lawmakers to put together a list of black leaders. He still, however, supported the resolution.
“It's sad,” he said. “What you may despise, we may lift up.”
Kaepernick, who was born in Wisconsin, has been out of the league since the 2016 season. He created a firestorm after kneeling during the national anthem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.