Two years ago, Thomas started kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem, as a member of the Miami Dolphins, to protest police brutality, racism, and inequality; a movement made mainstream by former 49ers‘ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, shot by police officers a day apart in July 2016, is what prompted Thomas and three of his Dolphins teammatesKenny Stills, Arian Foster, and Jelani Jenkinsto kneel during the anthem at the start of the 2016 season.
Thomas said he had spoken with Kaepernick about his decision. I was done with talking about it, hashtag, social media. It was time to let people know it aint all good. Somethings got to be done, Thomas told the NY Times.
He’s no longer kneeling. Instead of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, Thomas has extended his efforts to see change outside of the field.
Thomas has been involved many social justice programs including a Miami-area community effort called First Step, a program that tries to bridge the divide between law enforcement personnel and underprivileged neighborhoods in areas like Fort Pierce, Fl.
@Michael31Thomas had a blast today kicking off @CharacterPlaybk with the 7th graders at @EAHarlem by talking about character & healthy relationships. @unitedwaynyc #NYGinTheCommunity https://t.co/ZyEHbzuiJu
So its no surprise that when an opportunity arose to complete an internship with a sitting member of Congress, Thomas accepted.
Were doing what we can as players to use our voice and our platform. But this is how the rest of the U.S creates change. So, O.K., let me learn that game, too, Thomas said.
The special teams player got the chance, for three weeks, to work with Houstons district representative, Sheila Jackson Lee answering phones and handling paperwork all while learning to take his activism and turn it into law.
The next day, Im in the meeting with Democrats and Republicans going at it, Thomas said. Theyre letting the White House representative have it. Im like, This is the real deal.
Jackson Lee had some encouraging words for Thomas, telling him to keep pushing and fighting for change. The NFL star said he could see himself in that space and now is the time for different perspectives and different voices.