July 3, 2019
Nike pulled its special, commemorative Fourth of July sneakers featuring a “Betsy Ross Flag” from store shelves this week after former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick—best-known for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem as a protest against police brutality—complained that the company shouldn’t use a colonial symbol that he and others see as offensive, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Kaepernick, who remains a national hero for his gesture, also has clout and leverage with Nike: He was named the new face of the sportswear and footwear firm’s “Just Do It” marketing campaign in February.
According to a report by Fortune, the Betsy Ross Flag design on the Air Max 1 USA was intended as a celebration of U.S. Independence Day—with a flag that featured 13 white stars in a circle on the heel. The design was created during the Revolutionary War.
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag,” said Mark Rhodes, a spokesman for the company, in an email to the media on July 1.
Kaepernick contacted the company after the shoes were posted online, saying the flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery, the newspaper said.
Research contact: @Nike