The Walt Disney Company announced Monday a first-look deal with Colin Kaepernick via his production arm, Ra Vision Media; the partnership will “focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity.”
The deal will extend across all Disney platforms, including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated.
Kaepernick, a former quarterback for San Francisco 49ers, gained national attention in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism; shortly thereafter, he was exiled from the National Football League.
On Monday, in the joint announcement with Disney, Kaepernick stated: “I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives.”
Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, said the company “remains committed to creating diverse and inclusive content that resonates and matters. Colin’s experience gives him a unique perspective on the intersection of sports, culture and race, which will undoubtedly create compelling stories”.
Last month, Netflix announced that Kaepernick and filmmaker Ava DuVernay were collaborating for a forthcoming series entitled Colin in Black & White that will center on Kaepernick’s early life as a Black child growing up with a white adopted family.
There has been a renewed focus on past peaceful protests from Kaepernick and others in the wake Geroge Floyd’s death, and the subsequent demonstrations held throughout the country.
In August of 2016, when initially asked why he was deciding to kneel, Kaepernick explained: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” That season, Kaepernick donated $1 million to charities. “Once again, I’m not anti-American. I love America. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better.” Kaepernick said in September of 2016. “I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put their selves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee, so I have the utmost respect for them.” In May of this year, Kaepernick teamed up with defense lawyers in the Minneapolis area to provide legal assistance for people arrested while protesting police brutality there following the death of George Floyd.
“When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction. The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back!” Kaepernick tweeted on May 28.
The NFL has recently made numerous attempts to improve its relationship with black players and fans. Last month NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a lengthy apology, saying in a video message, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Surprisingly, President Donald Trump said last month that he “would love” to see Kaepernick “get another shot” at returning to the NFL. However, Trump continues to reiterate his opposition to players kneeling during the anthem. “ OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!” Trump tweeted in June.