Colin Kaepernick Creates ‘Know Your Rights Camp’ to Empower Youths

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback sponsored an inaugural event in Oakland, Calif., to talk to young people about college, health, finances and life. 

YahnaiJah Gilliam and her sister Makeda, who attended the Know Your Rights Camp hosted by Colin Kaepernick in Oakland, Calif., on Oct. 29, 2016 YahnaiJah Gilliam

The San Francisco 49ers had a bye week this weekend, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick used his free time to host an event in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday for hundreds of black and Latino kids from California’s Bay Area titled, #KnowYourRightsOakland.

According to its website, Know Your Rights Camp is “a free campaign for youth to raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.”

The organization has a goal “to help build a stronger generation of people that will create the change that is much needed in this world.”

The Oakland event, which took place at Impact Hub Oakland, was the launch of something Kaepernick said he hopes he will be able to spread to other cities across the country.

The camp is centered on 10 basic rights each child has. They are:

  1. You have the right to be free.
  2. You have the right to be healthy.
  3. You have the right to be brilliant.
  4. You have the right to be safe.
  5. You have the right to be loved.
  6. You have the right to be courageous.
  7. You have the right to be alive.
  8. You have the right to be trusted.
  9. You have the right to be educated.
  10. You have the right to know your rights.

Saturday’s event started at 8 a.m. local time and included speakers who talked to youths on subjects like going to college, holistic health and fiscal responsibility. There was a catered breakfast, and the young people participated in small breakout sessions where Kaepernick himself wandered in and out, interacting with the teens one-on-one.

YahnaiJah Gilliam, 17, is an Oakland resident who attended Saturday’s event. She tells The Root that she was very impressed with the way the event was handled.

“I went into it expecting a super-structured thing, but it honestly felt like we were at an after-school event,”YahnaiJah says. “He spoke to us in a very nurturing way; he wasn’t condescending at all.”

YahnaiJah says she felt like she was at her “Uncle Kaepernick’s” house.

“It was really one of those feel good warm and fuzzy moments. He talked about serious topics, but he didn’t present them in a way that would make us fear or be scared,” she says. “He made us feel comfortable. He didn’t fuel hate or rebellion. It was very calm, mature, reasoning discussion.

“He discussed our rights, not just legal rights, but the right to be happy and the right to feel safe in our neighborhoods,” she adds.

YahnaiJah also notes that Kaepernick wasn’t afraid to interact with any of the gathered youths. He hugged them and talked to them, and he spent time speaking with the parents one-on-one about ways he could do more for the community and the children, she says.

NiQueen Jones, 37, attended the camp with her two children. She tells The Root it was immediately apparent that Kaepernick wasn’t doing this for publicity or the media; in fact, the only person from the media in attendance was Shaun King of the New York Daily News, who attended the camp with his son.

“I like the fact that he did all of this on his own. It was just him, his girlfriend, and a few of his friends,” Jones says. “They wanted to do this thing to reach out. It was very genuine and sincere.”

“He spoke from his heart,” Jones adds. “He’s really down to earth, and he’s sincerely into this. He talked to the kids like he was their big brother.”

When the event was over, Kaepernick presented the attendees with a backpack that included camp hats and T-shirts, an AncestryDNA kit and a one-year subscription to Ancestry.com, a signed notebook, pens and pencils engraved with “Know Your Rights,” and a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which Kaepernick said was a huge inspiration to him.

It is apparent that Kaepernick is doing more than taking a knee during the national anthem; he is taking a stand for young people everywhere.

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