Colin Kaepernick’s football career remains very much a question mark, but he’s already left an impression on American culture, as his jersey and other gear from his protests in 2016 are now in the hands of the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture continuously collects items of historic significance from African Americans involved in all phases of American life, and the sociologist and author Harry Edwards encouraged the museum to take a close look at Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback drew nationwide attention last year when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality in America.
Edwards arranged for the donation of a jersey and other equipment to the Smithsonian, but did so with a request. “I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’” Edwards said, according to USA Today. “‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture. … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’”
Kaepernick remains unsigned even as players like Ryan Fitzpatrick sign deals, and there is, of course, the question of how much his very public and very controversial political stances may be harming his marketability. Regardless, he continues to push forward with charitable efforts, and if the Smithsonian donation is any indication, he’ll continue to have a cultural impact whether or not he ever takes another snap.
The jersey isn’t yet on display. Exhibits at the museum typically rotate every year or so, but Smithsonian officials indicated there are no fixed plans yet to place Kaepernick’s gear in public view.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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