MIAMI (UPI) — Boos bellowed from the belly of Hard Rock Stadium Sunday as San Francisco 49ers quarterback-turned activist Colin Kaepernick jogged onto the field.
Less than 48 hours before the San Francisco 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Cubans filled the streets of Little Havana celebrating the death of Cuba’s communist leader Fidel Castro.
Kaepernick, who has made his stance crystal clear regarding American politics, despite not voting, sported a shirt last week featuring Malcolm X and Castro and reading: “like minds think alike.”
The move made Cuban Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero call Kaepernick a “hypocrite” and a “fraud,” while steaming criticism poured from social media outlets. Kaepernick earned international notoriety earlier this year when he became the first NFL athlete to kneel during the national anthem before games. He has sported other shirts at press conferences, including ones featuring the Black Panther Party, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X quotes. His Sunday post-game shirt featured only Malcolm X.
Kaepernick also kneeled before Sunday’s national anthem. He went on to complete 29-of-46 passes for 296 yards, three scores, and an interception. He also rushed for 113 yards on 10 carries.
After the loss, he was asked once again about his support for Castro. Kaepernick previously said that he agreed with Castro’s prioritization of education.
“What I said was I agree in the investment in education,” Kaepernick said. “I also agree in the investment of free universal healthcare. As well as the involvement in him helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everybody agrees that those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did, it’s just not true.”
“I can understand the concern [of South Floridians],” Kaepernick said. “What I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm X. I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960 when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. That’s something that will always be true to what Malcolm was, what he represented, because I’m not going to cut out history.”
Kaepernick, 29, and the 49ers are on a franchise-record 10-game losing streak. He has completed 115-of-208 passes for 1,440 yards, 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions. He also has 373 yards and one score on 46 carries.
“I don’t worry about people losing track of what the message is,” Kaepernick said. “I’ve been true to the message. I’m against systematic oppression. Voting is a part of that system, and I’ve talked at length about why I believe that.”
Kaepernick is under contract through 2020. The 49ers face the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 at Soldier Field.
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