Long before the newly woke folks started chastising Black people for celebrating the Fourth of July, shunning our cookouts that we go to mostly for aunty’s potato salad, Black people have been reckoning with what American independence means for our people. In 1852, Frederick Douglass so eloquently asked, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” In the infamous speech he answers: “A day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham.”
This Fourth of July, Colin Kaepernick had a Douglass moment by posing a similar question in a tweet. “How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs? To find my independence I went home.” By home he means Ghana.
The one-minute video he shared highlights his visit to local hospitals in Keta, the Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park and Cape Coast Castle — one of about 40 castles used to hold enslaved Africans before they were shipped to the Americas and Caribbean.
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"What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?" – Frederick Douglass. In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage. I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return. I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah's Memorial Park. I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.
In the short clip, you can see the former 49ers quarterback humbly allowing the people to place cultural garments on him. He helped carry dirt alongside the women carrying water in buckets. And he gleefully watched children perform song and dance.
“In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana,” Kaepernick wrote in an Instagram post. “I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park. felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.”
Kaepernick may not be the most popular guy in the NFL due to his pro-black stances and vocal criticism of police brutality, but he is a man of the people. At least the ones who get it. His tweet about his trip to Ghana has since gone viral with over 35,000 retweets.
The outspoken football activist eventually headed to Egypt where he was joined by 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. We’re happy Kaepernick went beyond the “we’re descendants of Egyptian kings and queens” rhetoric hoteps obsessed with monarchy lineage spew. If most of us were to trace our ancestry, it’d take us to Ghana and other West African countries, not Egypt.
Freedom ain’t free. But hopefully, Kaepernick never stops trying to get free and fighting the good fight along the way.