Colin Kaepernick has been slammed for using chunks of Frederick Douglass’ famous Fourth of July address on Twitter to criticize police brutality and claim racism in America without including the sections of his speech where he told of his love of country and hope for the future.
The controversial former San Francisco 49ers player shared a video on Twitter on Thursday in which parts of Douglass’ lengthy 1852 speech were orated over a montage of slavery depictions and videos of police shooting unarmed African Americans.
He tweeted beneath it: ‘What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…
‘There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.’
While a crucial and memorable part of the speech, it is only a fraction of the 10,000 word address Douglass, who was born into slavery and became a pioneering abolitionist and civil rights activist, gave.
Kaepernick, who sparked the NFL protests in 2016, was slammed for omitting the majority of the text by critics who accused him of comparing himself to Douglass and trying to rewrite history.
His tweet fiasco comes days after Nike pulled a patriotic Fourth of July shoe it had designed featuring a Betsy Ross flag because Kaepernick, one of the brand’s ambassadors, complained about it.
He said it was ‘offensive’ because the flag was designed while slavery was prevalent.
Critics leaped on Kaepernick’s tweet and accused him of deliberately omitting key parts of the address to suit his ‘narrative’.
‘Why not finish this from Frederick Douglass… in other words he understood the future was full of hope, growth and change. Which we have done.
‘You yourself have profited from this great nation. If you think you can make a better life elsewhere, please, stop race baiting and leave!’
‘Frederick Douglass also understood that it was the words of the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, and later the Constitution, by men like James Madison, that sets the wheels in motion to end slavery in a world and a time when slavery was common,’ another fumed.
‘Frederick Douglass just rolled over in disgust over this one!’ another person said.
‘Why not quote from the beginning of the speech where he said that if slavery was ended, he would celebrate the 4th of July with everyone else.
‘Remember, that speech was given while slavery was still going,’ another said.
‘Oops! At least have the decency to quote Frederick Douglass in his entirety,’ one said.
Another quipped: ‘It wouldn’t fit his narrative to give an accurate quote.’
Among the first to criticize him was Senator Ted Cruz.
‘You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand. Two critical points:
‘(1) This speech was given in 1852, before the Civil War, when the abomination of slavery still existed. Thanks to Douglass and so many other heroes, we ended that grotesque evil and have made enormous strides to protecting the civil rights of everybody.
‘(2) Douglass was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery. Indeed, he concluded the speech as follows: “Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country.
‘“There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain.
‘“I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from ‘the Declaration of Independence,’ the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.”’
Cruz then added a link to the speech in full and told followers: ‘Let me encourage everyone, READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH; it is powerful, inspirational, and historically important in bending the arc of history towards justice.’
Kaepernick has long been a target of criticism from Republicans.
Since launching a spate of controversial NFL protests in 2016, he has been accused of being anti-American for not standing during the national anthem, at times taking a knee or sitting on the bench while it is played.
The bold gesture sparked a ripple effect in the world of sports and inspired other athletes to carry out their own protests.
It however enraged the president and other Republicans.
They saw the protests as a sign of disrespect to veterans who fought for America’s freedom. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in 2017.
Earlier this month, he sparked controversy by complaining that a Nike shoe which had been designed to go on sale for July 4th featuring an early American flag, sometimes known as a Betsy Ross, was ‘offensive’.
The Air Max 1 USA shoes were set to go on sale this week for $140.
Nike had already shipped the shoes to retailers when it asked for them to be returned without explanation.