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BLM: Can athlete activists force real change? | The Stream

Al Jazeera, 15 Sep 2020
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee on a US football field he was following in the footsteps of other campaigning athletes such as Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour-barrier in baseball.

Sport stars have always played a pivotal role in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Most recently, several have given high-profile support to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and campaigns for voting rights.

Rising tennis star Naomi Osaka this week won her second US Open title but it was her silent activism on the sidelines that dominated the headlines. Osaka showed up to court each day wearing a face mask bearing the name of a different Black American killed at the hands of white perpetrators, in what Osaka said was an effort to highlight racial injustice.

Last month, the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and subsequent violent protests, led to basketball stars refusing to play, saying they could not focus on the sport in the wake of those events.

In this episode of The Stream, we discuss the role athletes have historically played in protest movements and ask whether this most recent push for change is different.

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