Kaepernick, unlike his critics, remains on the right side of history

As the Fourth of July approached earlier this week, I was curious if Colin Kaepernick would have any comments about the holiday.

It’s not surprising that he not only talked the talk, but walked the walk.

As many of you probably know, he first visited Egypt with former 49er teammate Marquise Goodwin.

Then on July 4th, he was in Ghana, which Kaepernick says he traced his ancestral roots to and from where the ships left Africa on the infamous Middle Passage.

Kaepernick then tweeted about the Fourth of July, “How can we truly celebrate our independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs.’’

The Daily Mail called that ”controversial,” but there was nothing controversial about it.

Kaepernick added, “To find my independence, I went home.’’

He also posted a short video of his trip showing him visiting Ghana.

He posted a longer Instagram post about his trip starting with quote from Frederick Douglass, “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?”

One thing Kaepernick hasn’t done is answer any of his critics who keep saying he needs to give an interview to say he wants to continue to play in the NFL. He’s staying above the fray.

The latest was new 49ers GM John Lynch, who said that after talking to Kaepernick that he feels Kaepernick is “fully committed to wanting to be in this league.’’

He said Kaepernick should “sit down and give an interview and let people know where you stand.’’

It’s difficult to figure out why Kaepernick should do that. He apparently convinced Lynch he’s committed, and Lynch didn’t sign him. The NFL has made it obvious that none of its 32 teams want to sign him. The only question left is whether he will get signed once teams start suffering injuries and are desperate for a quarterback.

Kaepernick has said he won’t kneel during the national anthem in the future if he is signed, but that isn’t enough for the NFL or for many fans who laud the teams for not signing him.

On the Fourth of July, we have our barbecues and visit friends and relatives and watch fireworks, but we don’t talk about why the founding fathers — much less the Declaration of Independence — didn’t address slavery.

In fact, NPR, which has a tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence every Fourth of July, tweeted it this year in 140-character segments. Right on cue, some Donald Trump fans didn’t recognize it and called it propaganda.

On the issue of why the founding fathers didn’t address the slavery issue, Gordon S. Wood, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, gave an interesting explanation in a talk in 2013.

Wood says one of the reasons slavery wasn’t addressed was that the North had slaves, too. Slaves were 14 percent of the population in New York. Even John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned slaves.

And many founding fathers like John Adams, who didn’t own slaves, thought slavery was on its last legs and would gradually disappear. What they didn’t realize is that it was actually thriving.

That’s how they rationalized Thomas Jefferson writing “all men are created equal,” even though that didn’t include women, males who didn’t own land or slaves. Jefferson himself was a slave owner who didn’t free his slaves on his death and sired several children with one of those slaves, Sally Hemmings.

Even Jefferson wrote that “the abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in these colonies.’’

Jefferson just didn’t seem to be too keen on it happening on his lifetime.

In the coming decades after the country was founded, the North and South didn’t grow closer together. They grew apart. The Northern states were building turnpikes and canals, creating banks and corporations and becoming the most highly commercialized society in the world.

Meanwhile, in the South, slavery became more entrenched and there were fewer towns, fewer schools, fewer newspapers, lower taxes and much less spending on education and social services.

This was obviously not going to end well. The flashpoint became whether the West would be slave-free or not. The turning point was the Missouri crisis of 1819, when the North tried to add prohibition of slavery to a bill admitting the state.

It then became obvious to both sides they had a problem. The North was serious about ending slavery, while the South realized the North was serious about ending it and especially didn’t want it in the West.

This led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, when Missouri was admitted as a slave state and Maine as a free state.

The Civil War, though, was now inevitable, Wood says.

Not that the war was the end of the story. Jim Crow laws lasted another century, and even today, Kaepernick is considered controversial.

As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead. It’s not even past.’’

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