In an interview that aired Wednesday night with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, former Ohio State All-American defensive back Malcolm Jenkins spoke about his social activism— both on and off the football field— and how he tries to help and understand others, despite the increasingly contentious times in which we live.
With training camps getting underway across the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles’ safety spoke about how his raised, clinched fist during the national anthem went from being his version of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling-protest to being a gateway to actively impact his community.
“At the end of the day, I’m fighting for people,” Jenkins told Holt. “I’m fighting for Americans and citizens that have been disenfranchised, that have been systemically oppressed for centuries.”
Like Kaepernick, the Super Bowl champion hopes to draw attention to what he believes is an epidemic of police violence against African-American citizens. However, in addition to using his platform as a two-time NFL All-Pro, Jenkins has been engaging with police organizations, including the Philadelphia Police Department. He has participated in ride alongs and had conversations with members of the force to be able to understand both sides of the sometimes volatile situation.
“I’m not afraid of a tough conversation,” Jenkins said. “But I wanted to get an understanding of what their challenges [are] and how do they view this issue, if they even see [the protests] as an issue.”
Jenkins told Holt that he chose to raise his fist in protest as a tribute to Olympic track icons John Carlos and Tommie Smith, and that he has not yet decided if he will continue doing so during the national anthem this season, or not.
Jenkins added, “I hope what I do off the field, you know, lives way longer than what I do on the field.”
To learn more about Jenkins social activism, including the work that he does via his Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, read more on nbcnews.com.