by Johnnie Burrell
On Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, San Francisco’s historic Third Baptist Church was the place for all to see and hear San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick – or so said the word that had spread like wildfire the previous day. The church was packed and the media attended in droves, curious to know what Kaepernick would say, speaking in a Black church for the first time since the controversy over his refusal to stand for the national anthem began making nationwide headlines. He explains his righteous and courageous protest as a response to police abuse of Black and Brown people, which he says he too experiences despite his status as a superstar Black quarterback in the NFL.
Services kicked off with the booming, welcoming voice of the pastor Dr. Amos Brown, who also heads the San Francisco NAACP, and continued with the church choir that stirred the attendance’s anticipation of Kaepernick’s arrival. The church congregation, visitors and the just plain curious were soon to hear Dr. Brown announce that Kaepernick could not attend due to “the rigors of training” but would re-schedule an appearance at a later date. I was there and didn’t hear any audible words of disappointment, as one might expect, noting that instead the attendees were respectful of Dr. Brown’s message and very few, from what I could see, left after learning that Kaepernick would not appear.
Services continued with powerful presentations from Alice A. Huffman, president of the California chapter of the NAACP, civil rights attorney John Burris and a presentation by former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown that brought nearly everyone to their feet more than a few times. At one point during his speech, he was interrupted by a white woman who alluded to her daughter having been killed. She was politely ignored – and not ejected.
Even in the absence of Colin Kaepernick, it was a memorable Sunday. The remarks of John Burris and Willie Brown especially, recorded here in their entirety, made attending the service well worthwhile.
Johnnie Burrell is a renowned San Francisco videographer, who records Black history as it’s made in countless videos. Visit his website, www.internationalmediatv.com, and his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/johnnieburrellstv. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.