A controversial campaign initiated by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest racial injustice and police brutality continues to bear fruit.
According to The New York Times, the NFL will continue to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known widely as the Black national anthem, before games during the 2021 season.
The NFL began playing the song, written more than 120 years ago by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, following the global racial justice movement sparked by the police killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020.
Additionally, the league will permit players to display social justice messages on their helmet decals. There are six approved slogans, including “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us.”
League officials had a change of heart about players kneeling during the U.S. national anthem to protest police brutality against Black people. Kaepernick began the demonstration that sparked outrage from those who said it was disrespectful. The former San Fransico 49ers quarterback, who led the team to Super Bowl XLVII, was blackballed for his refusal to stop kneeling.
Amid global demonstrations against police violence in the wake of Floyd’s killing, the NFL officially apologized for silencing peaceful player protests, admitting "we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."
"We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Twitter. “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”