Since Colin Kaepernick began protesting the national anthem in August, more and more athletes have decided to take a stance for racial equality. Many of these athletes who are supporting his message aren’t even of voting age ― but that doesn’t mean their voices aren’t being heard.
The San Fransisco 49ers quarterback wanted to make sure the football team at at Castlemont High School knew how impactful they were when he joined their die-in protest on Friday.
While the anthem played before kickoff, the players and coaches of the Oakland, California team laid on their backs with their hands up as Kaepernick knelt.
This was the second game in a row the players protested the national anthem, according to The Mercury News. Senior player Jadan Starks told NBC Bay Area that his team decided to do a die-in to show their “vulnerability” to the power that law enforcement holds.
The team’s head coach reached out to Kaepernick after the quarterback retweeted a photo shared on Sept.19 of the team’s first protest. The NFL player agreed to talk to the kids.
Prior to the game, Kaepernick told the team that he joined their protest because he wanted to support them in the same way that the team has supported him. Assistant coach Ben Arnold posted a series of videos of Kaepernick’s comments to the team on Saturday.
“I know situations like a lot of y’all might be in where people don’t treat you the same, they don’t give you that time of day, they don’t give you those opportunities to be the best you can be,” he told the team. “That’s why I made the decision to do what I did. You all inspired me with what you did, following that and standing up. You all are doing this at a much younger age than what I did. This took me a while to get to this point. And you all are conscious of this at this point in time to make that stand.”
He urged the young men to lift each other up and recognize their own strength.
“You are important. You make a difference. This matters. Everything you do matters,” he said. “I love y’all. Y’all my brothers. I’m here with you.”
Since Kaepernick began his protest, he’s gained a lot of support― and backlash ― from athletes, celebrities and politicians. Though he’s helped to bring issues of racial inequality to the forefront within the past month, at least 16 black people have been killed by cops in this country since he began his protest.
Kaepernick told The Mercury News that what the high school students are protesting “takes a lot of courage,” especially, since they live in an area that sees a lot of the issues he’s speaking out about.
“To be with those kids–to be with those young men ― and just listen to them and hear them speak about what’s going on… what they’re fighting through… what they’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis… I mean… it’s sickening to me that we allow that and we accept that as OK,” he told the outlet. “It’s something that needs to change.”
Listen to Kaepernick address the team in the videos below.