Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior met up with NFL social justice icon Colin Kaepernick in Madrid on Tuesday. The two share similar backstories as victims of continued racism in their sports. Now, they are making a significant difference on and off the pitch.
Kaepernick famously took a knee during the national anthem in September 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality. His action sparked a nationwide discussion of systemic issues entrenched in American society.
In the years leading up to Kaepernick's protest, the United States witnessed several highly publicized instances of police brutality, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014; Eric Garner in New York City in 2014; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014; Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015; and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, in 2016, among others.
The former pro quarterback has yet to re-sign to any NFL team since his departure from the San Francisco 49ers in January 2017 despite his free agency. Despite his proven abilities as a quarterback, including a private workout in 2019, no NFL has made him an official offer. Netflix released Colin in Black and White in 2021 to highlight the player's experiences growing up as a biracial child.
Vini Jr draws inspiration from Colin Kaepernick's activism
The two athletes posed in Madrid for photos and signed kits.
“Today was a very, very special day for me… Listening and learning the story of a MAN that has been fighting so much against racism was unforgettable for me. Thank you so much, Colin,” wrote Vini Jr on Twitter/X.
“Your story is truly inspiring and I recommend everyone to watch your Netflix documentary. Thank you Nike for connecting us. This day and my conversation with Colin will have a major impact on my life going forward to make this a better and more equal world.”