Colin Kaepernick has presence at Super Bowl 55 with new mural, billboards

One of the Colin Kaepernick billboards around Tampa during Super Bowl week

By Analis Bailey USA TODAY

TAMPA, Fla. — Colin Kaepernick is not playing in Super Bowl 55 but fans can see him around Tampa.

Kaepernick is on billboards throughout the city and on a mural less than three miles away from Raymond James Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The mural located in Old West Tampa was created in collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s, artist-activist Brandan “BMike” Odums and Know Your Rights Camps (KYRC), Kaepernick’s non-profit foundation established in 2016 to empower the youth of Black and brown communities through education.

The vibrant wall art featuring detailed portraits of children from KYRC and Old West Tampa was created to honor Kaepernick’s continuous fight against systemic racism and police violence in America. 

On the corner of West Main Street and Albany Street, several dozen members of the community gathered Wednesday morning to view the spray-painted scene, complete with the iconic image of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback raising his fist, the words “know my rights,” and the Know Your Rights 10 points.

Odums, a friend of Kaepernick’s and the designer of the Change the Whirled Ben & Jerry’s pint released in December, unveiled the dedication plaque at the corner of his work and etched his signature in front of the crowd with a can of black spray paint. 

Odums connected with Kaepernick and KYRC when the organization held a camp in his hometown of New Orleans.

“There is a lot of synergy in the work that he does and the work that I am doing,” Odums told USA TODAY Sports. “We saw that there was a lot of benefit in connecting the work that we do and I am a big supporter of his and always have been. I see this as a great moment for his work and Know Your Rights Camp and all of the great things that they are doing and will continue to do.”

With five days, two local artists and two artists that accompanied Odums to Tampa, the 30 feet by 90 feet display was created. Odums says his activism through art and being a Black artist at this time in our nation’s history plays an important role in society. 

“I am inspired by and a student of the legacy of Black art and Black artists. That has always been at the forefront and deeply connected to the conversations and the struggle for Black liberation,” said Odums. “To be a black artist in this moment, I understand the role that we play. Paul Robeson said ‘artists are the gatekeepers of truth.’ There is a responsibility of being truthful and a responsibility of being hopeful in terms of what tomorrow brings.”

Among the onlookers Wednesday was Chelsea, a student at Stewart Middle Magnet School just steps away from the mural. She was chosen by her teachers to be one of the community members depicted in the art. Her mother and father gave endless thanks to Odums and the KYRC for including her as a spectacle for the town. 

“There is so much going on in this country and I wish that all races would come together in peace, unity and harmony,” said Chelsea’s father. “I hope whoever sees this painting, it will affect them.” 

The mural is part of a larger effort to support organizations and locally owned businesses in Old West Tampa. 

On Super Bowl Sunday, families in the Tampa community are invited to a COVID-safe drive-thru event at the mural site to pick up a meal, a pint of Kaepernick’s ice cream and gift certificates to local barbershops and salons


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