SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick and Torrey Smith connected from nearly 3,000 miles away during the 49ers’ bye week.
Kaepernick and Smith participated in community events on opposite coasts last week. Kaepernick spent the better part of a day in Oakland for an event called “Know Your Rights Camp.” Smith helped organize a panel discussion in Baltimore called “Conversations for Change.”
“It’s similar, but Kap’s was more direct,” Smith said of the events. “We were trying to get answers and open the dialogue about different things. We had different groups to figure out all we can do better on our end to help the situation. It was very productive.”
Smith remained in the background for most of the two-hour event, speaking less than 10 minutes, according to the Washington Post. He turned the floor over to the other nine individuals on the stage, including a Baltimore police officer, a pastor, a hip-hop DJ and a Baltimore City Public Schools official. Audience members also spoke.
“We talked about different social issues affecting the people in Baltimore City,” Smith said. “We learned a lot. There was a lot of positive interaction between us and the community to figure out how we can help more.”
Kaepernick took a more active role in the event he helped organize in Oakland. He and his girlfriend, syndicated radio host Nessa Diab, worked on the event for around six months. Approximately 100 youth from 19 organizations around the Bay Area attended, according to East Bay Times.
“It’s an event we wanted to put on to help give them the opportunity to succeed,” Kaepernick said. “Give them some resources, some knowledge that can help progress them, help them understand the current state of things, as well as how to handle different situations and how to succeed in different situations.
“We wanted to make sure it was something that was very grassroots, that was true to what we believed and the message wasn’t skewed or misrepresented or manipulated by a corporation that we had to stand behind.”
Kaepernick has drawn national attention since August for his national anthem protest to bring awareness to racial inequalities in the United States. Since the fourth and final exhibition game, Kaepernick has taken a knee during the national anthem. Teammates Eric Reid and Eli Harold have joined him.
Kaepernick said he is donating $1 million to organizations with missions in line with his call for social justice.
“For me, it was amazing to see how engaged the kids were,” Kaepernick said. “Them being locked in, having very in-depth questions about things that are going on and different parts of the curriculum. And the positive feedback we got after, the excitement they had, for me that was exciting to see.”