Recognizing King on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which fell on Jan. 18 this year, the NFL tweeted a photo of the civil rights icon with one of his famed quotes: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The tweet garnered criticism, though, as many people called out the fact that the league has been widely accused of blackballing Kaepernick after he kneeled during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games to protest racial injustices.
Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who famously began kneeling in protest of systemic racism in 2016, has remained unsigned by any team since he became a free agent after the 2016 season.
Ava DuVernay, who directed “Selma,” a film which tells the story of King and the civil rights campaign that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, tweeted a GIF to the NFL Twitter account that spoke for itself.
The acclaimed filmmaker, who teamed up with Kaepernick for an upcoming Netflix series about the activist’s life called “Colin in Black & White,” shared a GIF that featured a clip of Denzel Washington from his performance in Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” on Broadway. In the GIF, Washington is seen shutting a door in someone’s face.
Other Twitter users chided the NFL as being hypocritical, with one Twitter user writing, “Y’all really have some kinda nerve.”
Twitter users called out another tweet posted by the NFL on Monday as hypocritical, after the league shared a video that featured a reading of a poem on being Black in America by Seattle Seahawks player Tyler Lockett.
Others took the opportunity to call out the NFL for its other systemic issues, like the fact that there’s now only two Black head coaches in the league, which is made up of roughly 70% Black players. Anthony Lynn, a Black former head coach for the Los Angeles Chargers, was fired earlier this month.
Kaepernick on Monday tweeted an excerpt of King’s famous 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in which the late civil rights icon wrote that the “great stumbling” block toward freedom for the Black community is the “white moderate” who is “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.”