Premieres at the 2022 Tribeca Festival
Thursday, June 9 at 6:00 PM Eastern
Tribeca At Home: Kaepernick & America Virtual Screening Accessible Nationwide for the First Time
Kaepernick & America explores the intersection between Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests and the reactions they spurred in the United States, revealing unique insights into America’s ongoing racial turmoil.
A film by Tommy Walker & Ross Hockrow
Produced by Bill Stephney, Gary Cohen, Matt McDonald
Executive Producers Don Lemon and John Battsek
It was the summer of 2016, an election year with unrest rumbling through America. There were countless triggers – the murder videos of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling, the counterpunch of Alt-Right and Fake News, Black Lives Matter, Russian meddling – a discordant national cauldron ready to boil over. It was the birth of Trumpism, but no one knew it yet.
Then, Colin Kaepernick took a knee and America lost its mind. Kaep’s knee touched down on the divide between America’s Black and white tectonic plates, creating an earthquake in the eternal race debate. The aftershocks of his singular gesture have already rippled through our country for years.
Kaepernick himself answered any and all thoughtful questions for a time, then stopped talking. And the resulting quiet has allowed for a thoughtful examination of the man and his story. It reveals layer upon layer of surprises and contradictions. Raised in a white family, he became a Black quarterback, while in fact, he is an adopted, biracial man. Inherently shy, he became the center of attention. The man everyone was talking about was mostly silent. He took a stand by taking a knee.
Kaepernick & America examines the man and his protest, exploring the remarkable conflict stirred by such a simple gesture.
The film includes conversations with Don Lemon, DeRay Mckesson, Pam Oliver, Steve Wyche, Nate Boyer, Hue Jackson, and April Dinwoodie.
“As a Black man, the Kaepernick saga captivated me from the start. It raised so many of the core issues that Black people deal with every day in America. And yet, the experience of Blacks in America is not monolithic. While Kaepernick knelt in a football uniform in San Diego, another Black man wearing a military uniform stood nearby and proudly sang the national anthem. We are all different as are our American journeys.”
“There are more than a thousand Black men in the NFL, but the one who protested had a singular journey that led him to make the choice. His racial history is complicated. His mother is white, his father is Black and his adoptive parents are both white. How did this particular set of social and societal influences lead a young superstar to put everything at risk?”
“The film we have made seeks to discover the parallels between the life and activism of Colin Kaepernick and the tumultuous and divisive factors that have coloured America’s racial divide. It is only partly about Kaepernick, as it actually reveals more about America, the land that reacted so profoundly to such a simple gesture. Kaepernick’s protest held up a mirror to a large portion of the public and millions didn’t like what they saw. The young man stood his ground in the face of the brutal backlash, continuing his protest for twenty consecutive weeks. Somehow, with his right knee on the field and his arms passively crossed in front of him, he managed to point a finger at injustice without saying a word.”
– Tommy Walker, Director (May 2022)