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Kaepernick Donates $25K To South Side Group Helping People Of Color Organize

By Chicagoist_Guest in News on Jan 11, 2017 8:07PM

Organizers for SOUL march in Chicago. Photo via SOUL

By Evan F. Moore

After pledging to donate a million dollars to charities last year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick latest donation is to a Chicago-based group dedicated to helping low-income people of color.

The mission statement of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), is “to assist low-income people of color in the Chicago Southland to build power, then subsequently leverage that power to fight for their own interest and liberation.” The group will receive $25,000 from Kaepernick's foundation to assist in operating costs for the organization.

Updated 5:30 p.m.: SOUL Organizers told Chicagoist that $15,000 of the donations will go to a fund for fighting mass incarceration in Illinois, particularly to help incarcerated people of color; $5,000 will go toward curriculum development for youth activists; and $5,000 will go toward supplies, media and marketing for, and transportation to, events, actions and meetings.

Kaepernick made the announcement last week via Twitter.

Tonya Watkins, SOUL’s lead organizer, told Chicagoist that she wants to bring Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” Camp to Chicago. According to foundation’s website, the Know Your Rights Camp is a free campaign that teaches youth about self-empowerment and how to interact with law enforcement officers.

“I reached out to see how we could connect with the Kaepernick foundation. I knew about the Know Your Rights Camp. It would be an amazing opportunity for the children of Chicago who are affected by the issues,” Watkins said. “They responded immediately. It was amazing.”

Kaepernick's Know Your Rights camp uses tenets adapted from the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense's Ten-Point Plan to teach students about their civil rights, particularly when interacting with authority figures like police officers.

Since Kaepernick made news by refusing to stand for the National Anthem during a preseason NFL game in protest of police brutality, his stance has gained as many detractors as followers. Since then, he has pledge to donate money from jersey sales to organizations across the country that work in oppressed communities, and has given $300,000 to date.

Kaepernick already had a history of donating his time and money to worthwhile causes. Since 2011, the 49ers quarterback has raised money for Camp Taylor, a charity that offers several programs for young people and families of children with heart disease. And last year, he donated $25,000 to the Black Youth Project in Chicago.

Watkins said she after heard about Kaepernick’s stance from her daughter. She decided that he couldn’t be alone in changing America’s inner-cities.

“She was amazed that such a famous football player could take such and stance. She went out and bought his jersey,” Watkins said. “It was inspirational to the both of us. To see such a person take a tremendous risk, it changes our lives. It mattered to a lot of people.”

Since word got out about the Kaepernick’s donation to SOUL, people have contacted the organization to find out how they can get involved.

“People want to support us. They didn’t know how to get involved, but they wanted to do something,” Watkins said.

Also, they’ve gotten some negative feedback on their association with Kaepernick. But Watkins said the jeers won’t deter them from their goals.

“For Kaepernick to take a public risk, we can take a couple of racist phone calls. This has fueled us to continue,” Watkins said. “Those racist comments fuel us to continue do the work. We understand there’s people who don’t see an issue with the criminalization with communities with color. We need to continue to fight.”