Colin Kaepernick, Nobel Peace Prize nominee?
That is Dr. Harry Edwards’ impassioned goal for the former 49ers quarterback who, four years ago, famously protested against social injustice and police misconduct, issues that again are at the forefront of American society.“He should be nominated at least for the Nobel Peace Prize, not just in terms of what he has done, but going all the way back to the beginning when athletes have played such a major role in the social justice movement, the movement for freedom, equality and so forth, not just in this country but around the world,” Edwards said in a phone interview Wednesday with this news organization.
Edwards is America’s preeminent sports sociologist, a long-time 49ers consultant and he has the capacity to nominate Kaepernick based on his standing as a professor emeritus of Cal’s sociology department.
Edwards intends to write a letter on Kaepernick’s candidacy to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and a nomination form can be submitted online between September and next February. This year’s 318 candidates are already set.
Although he consulted with and educated Kaepernick on racial and societal issues throughout his 49ers career from 2011-16, Edwards has not spoken with him in the past few weeks amid Black Lives Matter protests nationally and globally. Kaepernick has not commented publicly beyond rare social-media posts.
“He has so many people in his ears that I don’t think one more voice would be helpful, unless he had reached out to me,” Edwards said.
Kaepernick hasn’t been on an NFL roster since opting out of his 49ers contract in February 2017. Multiple teams, including the Los Angeles Chargers, recently said they’d consider adding him to their rosters this season.
Edwards believes Kaepernick deserves a much loftier roster spot.
“An athlete has never been named for the Noble Peace Prize. Never,” Edwards added. “But I think there’s a representative core of athletes, many of whom sacrificed their careers.”
Edwards then rattled off names: Major Taylor, Jesse Owens, Joe Lewis, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Kenny Washington, Earl Lord, Chuck Cooper, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Arthur Ashe, Curt Flood, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Maya Moore and Kaepernick.
In 2018, Kaepernick won Amnesty International’s highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.
“Given with where we are and what we’re dealing with, and the correlation between Kaepernick taking a knee (during 2016 national anthems at 49ers games) and a police officer taking a knee on a Black man and murdering him, lynching him right there on television, it’s time for an athlete to be recognized,” Edwards said.
“I push very hard for Kaepernick to be at least nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, not just in terms of what he’s done but in recognition of what athletes have done through the years, and in recognition of the athletic institution, including Bill Walsh, including Mr. Al Davis, including Red Auerbach, including Branch Rickey, including so many individuals who have stepped up out of this arena and made tremendous contributions.
“But because it’s regarded as the toy department of human affairs, which is itself a farce, it’s been overlooked by esteemed and astute organizations such as the Nobel Prize committee. It’s time for them to step up and say we are on the side of justice and those that sacrifice for it.”
This is not a new idea by Edwards. In 2016, he suggested Kaepernick’s Nobel nomination when he mailed in Kaepernick’s game jersey and cleats in 2016 to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
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