Colin Kaepernick hasn't spoken out in a public forum in several years. But for a man who's stayed largely silent, his shadow has continued to loom large both over the NFL and a divided country in the midst of social upheaval. Given the unrest that's gripped much of the nation it's no surprise that Kaepernick, along with a handful of other social justice activists, leaders, innovators and public figures found themselves included on The Root 100 Top Influential African Americans of 2020.
The Root 100 is the annual listing of the most influential African Americans between the ages of 25 and 45. It honors game changers "whose work from the past year is breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation."
Kaepernick (No. 2) would seem to fit the bill. While his activism may have cost him a lucrative NFL career, he appears to have found a greater calling. He currently heads the non-profit Know Your Rights Camp, which seeks to "advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders."
Kaepernick is joined on the list by Nikole Hannah-Jones (No. 1), the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary who is the brainchild behind The 1619 Project. The 1619 project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 which examined how the legacy of slavery continues to shape our country. The project suggests 1619 plays a critical role in the birth of the nation because of its roots in slavery and its aftermath. As a result the project has become a frequent target of conservative pundits and politicians, including the commander-in-chief.
Earlier this month, President Trump said in a tweet the U.S. Department of Education would investigate whether California schools are using the New York Times' "1619 Project" in public school curriculum.
"Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!" he wrote on Twitter, citing a message from an unverified account.
Among others highlighted were journalist Yamiche Alcindor (No. 5). Alcindor, a White House correspondent for PBS Newshour, has found herself a frequent foil of President Trump in recent months. Often praised for maintaining a calm demeanor during contentious White House briefings, it was during several such exchanges that Trump has called her "threatening" and her questions "nasty."
Alicia Garza (No. 27), the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, was recognized for her continued advocacy and activism in the Black community as head of the Black Futures Lab, which "works with Black people to transform our communities, building Black political power and changing the way that power operates."
As noted by The Root, earlier this year the lab released the Black Agenda, a point-by-point list urging political leaders to enact policies that will help destroy the barriers that have hindered Black prosperity and diminished our political power.
Click here, for the complete The Root 100 list.