September 4th, 2016

Rosemary Bunt wrote this week’s guest column for the North Royalton Post on the topic of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick under the unfortunate headline: You can’t fight racism sitting down. (I’m sure this was a copyeditor’s, and not Bunt’s, choice of words.)

I replied:

Good morning Ms. Bunt,

I would remind you of other African Americans who chose to sit: Rosa Parks and the dozens of other NAACP members of which Parks was only one, who volunteered to sit and not be moved as an act of civil disobedience.

I would recall to you Joseph McNeil, Izell Blair, Franklin McCain and David Richmond who sat at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and who were later joined by other student members of SNCC in Winston-Salem and Durham and Raleigh and Charlotte and Fayetteville and High Point and Elizabeth City and Concord.

I would refresh your memory concerning gold medal winner Tommie Smith and bronze medal winner John Carlos who, at perhaps the most personal moment in their lives, stood with heads bowed and fists raised at the 1968 Summer Olympics as a silent protest to the hate and prejudice and bigotry in their country.

I would encourage you to consider the actions of the 30 footballers at the University of Missouri who just last year sat down in protest of University President Bowen Loftin’s failure to take action against a pervasive and hostile culture of racial hatred on the school’s Columbia campus.

Finally, I would like you take note of the courage of Colin Kaepernick who has now morphed his protest (and been joined by teammate Eric Reid) by choosing to take a knee during the singing of our national anthem, an action of particular significance in American sports.

I sincerely hope that Kaepernick and Reid inspire others to follow suit.

Do all you can to make today a better day,

Jeff Hess
Have Coffee Will Write

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