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Wisconsin GOP blocks Black History Month bill because it honors Milwaukee native Colin Kaepernick

"Evidently the Republicans don’t think the 1st Amendment rights should be afforded to African-Americans."

CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 11:  Colin Kaepernick on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University on October 11, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images
CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 11: Colin Kaepernick on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University on October 11, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

To commemorate Black History Month this year, State Rep. David Crowley, a Democrat representing parts of Milwaukee in the Wisconsin state assembly, authored an extremely uncontroversial resolution simply meant to honor the state’s notable black Americans. It was passed through the state Assembly – but not before Republicans decided to raise a hissy fit.

Republican legislators refused to support the resolution — which was introduced and proposed by the chamber’s black caucus — until their friends across the aisle agreed to remove the name of Milwaukee native Colin Kaepernick from its list of honorees.

“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,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), as reported by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Kaepernick was included in the resolution in part because of the awareness he raised about police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem of NFL games, but also because of his strong local connection and the fact that he made a $25,000 donation to Urban Underground, a Milwaukee nonprofit that works with teens.

Crowley said the whole thing was a “slap in the face,” and a “textbook example of white privilege.”

“It is critical for this body to recognize the black caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward,” Crowley said. “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.”

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The debate is expected to move on to the Senate this week, where Sen. Lena Taylor (D) is determined to add Kaepernick’s name back on the bill.

“It’s outrageous that some Republicans feel they can censor African-American legislators in this way,” Taylor said. “So while we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, evidently the Republicans don’t think the 1st Amendment rights should be afforded to African-Americans.”

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first took a knee during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season as a way to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He inspired a world-wide #TakeAKnee movement, which many in the GOP — including President Donald Trump — have falsely characterized as unpatriotic and anti-military. Kaepernick and others in his camp have repeatedly stressed that the protest is against systemic racism, and specifically settled on kneeling out of deference to military service-members.

Despite his impressive credentials, Kaepernick has been unemployed by the league since 2017, and has filed a collusion lawsuit against the NFL, alleging the league conspired to keep him unsigned due to his protest during the national anthem. On his podcast this week, Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos said he expects the case to go to trial within the next six weeks.