John Carlos Likens 'Iconic Civil Rights Leader' Colin Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2017

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2017 file photo San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands on the sideline during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter Monday Oct. 16, 2017 to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith saying he believes players are showing disrespect for the flag and veterans. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests last season when he refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar File)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

John Carlos, who raised his fist in a Black Power salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, said he believes Colin Kaepernick is "this generation's iconic civil rights leader" after recently meeting the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, according to TMZ Sports.  

"Through his commitment and sacrifice to speak about the awareness of police brutality against blacks in America, Kaepernick has cemented his status in my books as one of many great individuals whose name will be spoken alongside the likes of Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Tommie Smith, Peter Norman, and myself," Carlos added. 

The Nation's Dave Zirin relayed a photo of the two together Thursday: 

Carlos isn't the first to mention Kaepernick and Ali in the same breath. 

In May, sociologist and civil rights activist Harry Edwards told USA Today's Jarrett Bell he thought Kaepernick was "this generation's Ali."

"Ali created a conversation,” Edwards said. "The conversation was going on at lower frequencies, but when the world champion steps forward and says, 'No Viet Cong ever called me a (expletive), and we have some issue we need to deal with here, not over there in a war that make no sense,' it moved the discussion to another level.

"The same thing with Kaepernick. He sparked a national conversation about race."

Kaepernick, who wore a t-shirt featuring Ali's image to a press conference last season, told reporters at the time he was honoring the legendary boxer and civil rights leader. 

"He is someone who helped pave the way for this to happen," Kaepernick said, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. What he did and what he stood for, people remember him more for that than I do as a boxer.

"I can't let him die in vain. I have to be able to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal."