The faithful masses filling the pews at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco’s Western Addition were expecting to see Colin Kaepernick deliver a rousing speech Sunday, but mid-service, the church’s pastor confessed to the throngs that the 49ers’ quarterback was a no-show.
The 28-year-old was invited, and apparently agreed to speak at the prominent black church, following his newfound social activism revealed in his decision to not stand this year during the national anthem before games.
Hundreds of people, including city dignitaries, community leaders and many who admitted to not regularly attending Third Baptist, packed into the church for the 10 a.m. service.
“Colin had every plan on being here,” the church’s pastor, the Rev. Amos Brown, said after the choir belted out a handful of inspirational hymns to an exhilarated audience. “But because of the rigors of training, he will not be here.”
Brown would not elaborate, saying only that he learned that morning that Kaepernick would not appear. Brown, who is also president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, assured his congregation that Kaepernick would reschedule.
Many in the group admitted to being disappointed, but the quarterback’s recent actions promoting civil rights and calling attention to police brutality have resonated deeply with Sunday’s audience and remained a central theme in nearly all of the morning’s sermons.
Joining Brown in turns at the pulpit were Alice A. Huffman, president of the California chapter of the NAACP; former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, now a Chronicle columnist; and civil-rights attorney John Burris. Burris said he was surprised when he learned during the service that Kaepernick wasn’t showing.
“It doesn’t matter if he comes here,” said Jamarian Speed, 13, a freshman at Mission High School who was attending Sunday’s service with his classmates. “It just matters what he stands for.”
Speed, along with six other youngsters, is part of a new African American Male Achievement course at Mission. The class came to the church Sunday to see Kaepernick.
“I could see the look of disappointment in their eyes,” said their teacher, Jeremy Vasquez. “They may not say it, but they were very excited to see him.”
Vasquez’s first-of-its-kind course in San Francisco public schools teaches boys about African American cultural identity. He recently had his students write essays about the significance of Kaepernick declining to stand for the anthem.
“I asked my students, ‘Do you believe what he’s doing is something that can spark a conversation?’” Vasquez said. “I think Kaepernick has done that. We’re still talking about it.”
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SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle – Evan Sernoffsky