Reno citizen of the year
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Sports Illustrated: “I have never been prouder to be an American. … Since Colin first declined to stand for the national anthem on Aug. 14, 2016, to call attention to the astounding number of unarmed African-Americans killed by police, the citizens have responded with both praise and condemnation, just as they always have whenever anyone exercises their right to free speech on a contentious topic. This is the same treatment bold Americans of conscience have always received. People rarely want to hear the truth when that truth reveals problems they don’t want to face. It’s easier to blame the messenger and ignore the message. He is forcing the country to continue to have a meaningful conversation about racial inequality when many want to pretend there is no problem. That’s why Colin has been vilified and glorified, ostracized and memorialized, demonized and idolized.
“Though supporters have come and gone, Colin has never wavered in his commitment. This selfless courage has inspired other athletes—from high school to professional ranks—across all sports, races and genders to make their voices heard. He is forcing the country to continue to have a meaningful conversation about racial inequality when many want to pretend there is no problem. Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award was created to honor individuals whose career in athletics has directly or indirectly impacted the world. On Nov. 30, it was reported that a group of about 40 NFL players and league officials had reached an agreement for the league to provide approximately $90 million between now and 2023 for activism endeavors important to African-American communities. Clearly, this is the result of Colin’s one-knee revolution and of the many players and coaches he inspired to join him. That is some serious impact. Upon hearing about the establishment of the award in his honor, Ali said, ‘I know there will be a great tradition of champions to receive this award in the future, and I look forward to celebrating their spirit and accomplishments.’ Were my old friend still alive, I know he would be proud that Colin Kaepernick is continuing Ali’s tradition of being a selfless warrior for social justice.”