San Francisco 49ers

Siding with Kaepernick, 49ers pledge $1 million to fight racial injustice

Colin Kaepernick speaks about his protest

Colin Kaepernick said Wednesday that Johnny "Joey" Jones, a Marine Staff Sgt. who lost both legs in Afghanistan, is among the military members he's spoken with since his national anthem protest became public late last month.
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Colin Kaepernick said Wednesday that Johnny "Joey" Jones, a Marine Staff Sgt. who lost both legs in Afghanistan, is among the military members he's spoken with since his national anthem protest became public late last month.

The 49ers on Thursday pledged $1 million toward two Bay Area groups that address the type of social inequities and racial issues their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has spotlighted in recent weeks.

The groups are the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation.

In a statement, CEO Jed York said the financial commitment is meant to improve “racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.”

In a tweet that links to the statement, York wrote he wanted the donation to “get the focus where it belongs.”

“We have chosen to work with these two organizations because they have proven track records of effecting change in the face of challenging problems and have the collective reach to make the greatest impact,” York said.

That commitment follows Kaepernick’s vow to donate the first $1 million of his 2016 salary, as well as all the money he earns from jersey sales this season, toward similar groups. Kaepernick’s jersey has become the NFL’s most popular after he took a public stance – punctuated by not standing during the national anthem – regarding what he calls oppression of people of color in this country.

A top-selling jersey can bring a player a six-figure sum, possibly as much as $500,000.

“It was something that the jersey sales jumped because people’s belief that there can be change, and we can make this country better, and that they believe that I was someone that could help that change,” Kaepernick said Wednesday. “And for me that support is something I have to give back to the communities for that cause, because that’s what their belief is, that’s what my belief is. And we can work toward a common goal.”

The 49ers’ donation comes several months after the team donated $75,000 to an LGBT-rights advocacy group in North Carolina and after York spoke out against that state’s controversial bathroom law.

York and the other NFL owners were in Charlotte, N.C., in May for league meetings. While Charlotte’s team, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, had been mum on the law, which has been criticized for singling out the LGBT community, York and the 49ers were outspoken.

“Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country,” York said in a statement at the time. “As an organization that prides ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge Governor Pat McCrory and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the current legislative session.”

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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