The Rundown

Martin Luther King's Daughter Defends the New Yorker's Controversial Colin Kaepernick Cover

The publication's cover story equates the civil rights struggle of the '60s with the activism of NFL athletes today.
Images from Bernice King and The New Yorker via Twitter

In its latest issue, the New Yorker is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s activist legacy by honoring Seattle Seahawks lineman, Michael Bennett, and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The NFL player national anthem demonstrations have sparked controversy since Kaepernick started the protests in 2016 to draw attention to racial inequality. Similarly, Bennett has been an outspoken supporter and participant in the protests during the anthem all season. Bennett became even more vocal about racial injustice after an incident with the Las Vegas Police Department, in which he alleged he was the victim of racial profiling.


The cover, illustrated by Mark Ulriksen, pictures the two athletes kneeling on either side of King, their arms linked and King’s head bowed in prayer. The image is reminiscent of a photo that Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest child and CEO of the King Center, posted on Twitter in September of 2017 when President Trump first criticized the kneelers.

The image King shared on Twitter is of Martin Luther King Jr. leading a prayer following the arrests of several protesters during a 1965 civil rights march in Alabama.

The New Yorker’s choice of imagery is a controversial one given the Trump administration’s strong opposition to the demonstrations, and the nation’s divided stance about sports colliding with politics on the field.

Ms. King addressed the criticism on Twitter and lauded the magazine for their brave choice.

What you can do:

Racial justice organization, Color of Change, has supported the NFL players’ right to demonstrate and have launched various initiatives to protect the protesters and celebrate the achievements of athlete-activists.

Last year, Color of Change started a petition for the NFL to create a player’s platform that would allow players to exercise their first amendment rights without recourse and advocate for criminal justice reform. Add your signature to their cause, to show the league it’s time to take a stand.

And then some

This year, Super Bowl Sunday will be about more than what team takes home a win. On February 4, people will tune in to not only to watch the game, but to see what type of activism the players will engage in during the national anthem. Pop-rock star Pink will sing the Star-Spangled Banner.

The singer has a been a vocal critic of the president and skewered him on Twitter after he attacked NFL players for kneeling.

Whether Pink’s performance will be a political statement remains to be seen, but it’s very likely that it could be.