MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The protest against racism is something retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page knows something about.
He is now sharing his views about the NFL protests during the National Anthem that have drawn so much attention this football season and created controversy.
Page, 72, was a force to be reckoned with as a Minnesota Viking in the 1970s, when he was one of the “Purple People Eaters.”
He later fought for justice as a state Supreme Court judge.
Now in retirement, Page is trying to shift the direction he feels the nation is going when it comes to racial inequalities.
“Given the license, the current administration has given to people to feel comfortable in their bigotry, it seems to me on some level we are moving backwards,” Page said.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling instead of standing during the National Anthem to draw attention to police violence — and other NFL players followed suit.
“It’s an acknowledgment that there is a problem, and a reminder for those who either don’t know, have never known or don’t want to know that these issues exist,” Page said.
Hundreds of people went to the Minneapolis Central Library to hear Page deliver a speech called “Testify.”
“How do we get to the point that as a nation we ensure everyone who is here has not just justice, but equal justice?” Page said. “That’s the real question.”
He says everyone has a right to protest, but thinks the controversy surrounding “take a knee” has become a distraction from the real issue.
“From my vantage point, it’s not about the controversy, the flag or the anthem. It’s about justice,” he said.
He quoted celebrated singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
“What Paul Robeson said was, ‘The answer to injustice is not to silence the critic. It is to end the injustice,'” Page said. “If I make no other point today, that is a point I would like for people to leave with.”
Page says this is not the world he envisioned his grandchildren living in.
He and his wife Diane are currently giving the public a chance to see a collection of artifacts and artwork they have acquired over the years that chronicle race relations in America.
The “TESTIFY” exhibit is at Central Library on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis until Feb. 6.