Arsenal football start Pierre Emerick Aubameyang takes the knee in support of Black Lives Matter protests. Photo / Courtesy

The civil rights story on black resistance is long and winding.

Freedom icons – men and women alike; historians, institutions among others have written and documented a lot about how today’s happenings relate to past events of liberation over the centuries.

Now showing on DStv’s History Channel 186 is 400 years; Taking The Knee, a documentary rich on civil rights history cutting across the centuries.

Here, author and BBC radio presenter, Dotun Adebayo, takes you down the memory lane, sharing the stories of various freedom heroes and heroines, who left indelible marks on the sands of time.

This two-part special, fit for students and history lovers, starts with the first years of the European slave trade, which he focuses on the individuals who fought and struggled against slavery, colonialism and their legacies that live on.

The show covers five centuries intertwining the British and American histories.

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Divided in two parts, the first investigates the different struggles in the gradual dismantling of slave trade. Not only does it look at the violent resistance but also to the literary and political organizing in the abolitionary process.

It looks at the relationship between British and American history, starting with the battle of dismantling slave trade.

The declaration of US independence, which embraced in its first lines “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” did not extend that right to millions of slaves, Africans or African Americans.

The third US President, Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner himself, penned those lines rejecting slavery; he removed the reference after receiving criticism from a number of delegates who enslaved black people.

The hot conversation on race is equally explored through the action of civil rights crusaders.

In part two, the documentary looks at how those who pioneered, resisted, spoken out and paved the way on how to fight racism.

From Jamaican national hero, Nanny of the Maroons, to the US National Football League (NFL) quarterback Collin Kaepernick, DStv’s History Channel 186 brings home a study of the struggles against racism, slavery and colonialism and how it is happening today.

American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a national protest within the sporting circles when he was pictured sitting on a bench, protesting against police brutality and racism on 26 August 2016 as other players sang the US National Anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL media.

The protest enraged former US President Donald Trump, who completely missed the point accusing the players of “disrespecting the flag”.

In contrast, Barack Obama – the first black man to become US President – defended the player’s constitutional right to make a statement while pointing to the long history of protesting within sport.

The gesture of taking a knee is a protest against the unfair treatment of Black Americans but has now become a globalized symbol of fighting racism.

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It gained traction in the American football scene, as increasing number of players took the knee during national anthem just before the games kick off.

An image of Martin Luther King going down on one knee while in prayer at a civil right march in 1965 has been widely used in recent years.

The act now performed by people across the globe as part of the black lives matter movement, which is battling racism in particular within the police following the death of George Floyd in 2020.

Starting at the end of Minnesota, protestors took the knee and called on the police to join them. Kaepernick offered support to the protestors by seeking to pay legal fees for those arrested.

Lebron James and other basketball players wore T-shirts with words “I can’t breathe” in 2014, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, who died after being restrained by police officers in New York.

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