While many of us celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday, surrounded by family, football and food, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick spent Thanksgiving addressing a group at the “Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony” on San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island.
The ceremony, known as “Unthanksgiving,” honors the 50th anniversary of when Native Americans began occupying the island, which formerly housed the infamous federal prison, Alcatraz.
Kaepernick tweeted his support of the event.
“Spent the morning at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on the 50 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. The U.S. government has stolen over 1.5 billion acres of land from Indigenous people. Thank you to my Indigenous family, I’m with you today and always,” as he signed off with the Black power fist.
Spent the morning at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on the 50 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. The US government has stolen over 1.5 billion acres of land from Indigenous people. Thank you to my Indigenous family, I’m with you today and always.✊? pic.twitter.com/6cTuktUlQN
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) November 28, 2019
Kaepernick also retweeted a Washington Post perspective piece that shines a light on the racist roots of Thanksgiving.
In the article, writer Christopher Petrella, who teaches in the race, gender and cultural studies collaborative at American University, states that Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, known as the Godmother of Thanksgiving, suggested the holiday as a way to bring the nation together much like the Fourth of July.
“Yet, her conception of ‘all of the people’ who would observe this holiday excluded at least one group: free Black people, as she made clear in an 1830 article titled ‘Fourth of July’ that appeared in the Ladies’ Magazine and Literary Gazette. In that piece, Hale wrote that ‘it should not be urged to have the slaves set at liberty till they can be sent to their own land, because they never can be free here,’” Petrella wrote, adding that while Hale was against slavery, she envisioned freed slaves moving back to Africa and not living in America.
In a article he wrote for Medium in 20178, Kaepernick explains why he doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving:
My fiancé and I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day because like many other holidays in America, Thanksgiving Day is racist and a bold-faced lie. Time magazine wrote an article on information that is probably closer to the truth than what we were taught in elementary school. However, I am still leery of hearing the story of the real first Thanksgiving written by a company that is owned by the very people who stole the land from its original owners and inhabitants.
…. Black people and Native Americans were living on the continent of America before Europeans came and stole the land. The older I get, America annoys me more and more with their blatant lies.