Coalition of African-American Pastors calls out Nike, Kaepernick over flag controversy

PHOTOS: (Instet) Ed Clemente/MGN and Nike via MGN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - In the wake of controversy of Nike's decision to pull a shoe with an early American flag due to reported concerns from Colin Kaepernick, the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) is calling on Nike to end its relationship with the former NFL quarterback.

The shoe giant decided to pull their Air Max 1 USA sneakers from retailers leading up to the 4th of July holiday after Colin Kaepernick and others reportedly expressed concerns about the Besty Ross flag embossed on the shoe.

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Kaepernick and others, according to a WSJ report, found the 'Betsy Ross flag' was offensive since it was connected to the era of slavery. The decision became the center of national debate and the CAAP is one group taking a stance against the quarterback.

In an open letter and petition to Nike President and CEO Mark Parker dated July 11, the coalition calls on Parker to "stand up for America."

The letter states "Many of us marched in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and have an established record of civic activism....We represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And we agree that Mr. Kaepernick’s views on America and the flag are fringe opinions, not shared by any of us especially the African Americans who marched against segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, we find Mr. Kaepernick’s views to be ill-informed and offensive, especially to veterans and others who have served this country."

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The letter goes on to say Kaepernick does not represent the group and Nike's decision has tainted their view of the brand.

"If this is not the case, we urge you to make it clear that you respect the American flag, its people, and its Founders. We ask that you sever your relationship with Mr. Kaepernick, who has become synonymous with radical anti-American sentiment. And we ask that you make amends to veterans by producing a select run of the Besty Ross shoes for the benefit of veterans groups and organizations that help military families," the letter states.

It is signed by the President of the Coalition of African American Pastors, Reverend Bill Owens.

The organization states they are not affiliated with any political party or religious denomination, though it has called for support of President Trump's immigration plan and called for the resignation of an Alabama legislator for comments on abortion.

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