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Artists Paint Kaepernick Murals As A Reminder Of The Controversy

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So as fans gathered to watch the Super Bowl yesterday, Fabian Williams was on a mission. He led a team of artists to paint murals in the city - nine murals, all of them featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In 2016, Kaepernick became the face of sideline protests. Players knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #1: Colin Kaepernick's protest against racial injustice seems to be gaining traction.

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #2: 49ers quarterback knelt instead of standing during the national anthem at last night's game. He was not alone.

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #3: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick again refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem as...

INSKEEP: But since Kaepernick knelt, the accomplished quarterback has been unable to find a team in the NFL. And the league has pushed back against the protests. William, the artist, had been trying to honor him. In 2017, he painted a mural showing Kaepernick in an Atlanta Falcons uniform.

FABIAN WILLIAMS: I felt like because of Atlanta's civil rights history, he would be the perfect type of player for this team and the city.

MARTIN: But just days before the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Williams noticed that his mural of Kaepernick was gone. It was torn down with the building that it had been painted on.

WILLIAMS: You know, me as an artist, it was almost like being in a rap battle with nobody (laughter), you know? So I was like, OK, I can't just let this just go down.

MARTIN: So yesterday, Williams and a team of local artists painted nine new murals of Kaepernick across Atlanta. They called it Kaeperbowl (ph).

INSKEEP: A rap battle with nobody. Well, he's winning because supporters offered the artists snacks and help.

WILLIAMS: There's, like, an urge for people to be - to feel good about what they do and to be on what they feel is the right side of history.

INSKEEP: Which means that even if fans never see Colin Kaepernick on another NFL sideline or on the field, they can see him suited up across neighborhoods in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMON AND SADAT X SONG, "1999 (STREET)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.