49ers’ Arik Armstead Uses Platform to Promote Racial Justice

Arik Armstead speaks during a media availability for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game, in Miami on Jan. 28, 2020. (Wilfredo Lee/AP file)

Standard NFL press conferences are starting to see a change in tone due to certain players. One San Francisco 49ers defensive end (DE) is going to start using the podium to spread awareness of the social issues plaguing the US. DE Arik Armstead will instead decrease talk about what goes on the field and shift the focus towards what’s happening off it.

What We Know:

  • As he’s promised since August, Armstead has talked about social issues over the past weeks. He recently spoke on hate crimes and challenged people to see how prejudice against minorities can be reduced. Another topic he’s hit on is inequality in education. He noted a statistic that schools with a high percentage of Black and Latino students “get less funding per capita” than mostly white schools.
  • Messages such as these are what Armstead plans to talk about during weekly media sessions to spread awareness of what’s wrong with present-day America. Before taking questions on football, he will highlight various social justice issues he’s studied upon.

“I was trying to find ways to push the needle, educate people with my platform,” he said. “I feel like that’s my responsibility and my duty as a citizen is to continue to be a better part of society, add value to society and the people around me.”

  • He went onto say how by playing in the National Football League, it gives him the opportunity to use the platform as a means of communication to people that look up to him and care about what he says. With this mentality, he has decided to use his voice for many positive things, while trying to advocate for social issues and educate.
  • According to the Associated Press, Armstead isn’t the only player that has attempted to tackle these discussions off the field. The Tennessee safety Kenny Vaccaro, has also made it clear to members of the media that he will not talk about the sport during conferences. Instead, he wishes to also speak on the surrounding issues of social justice that have made a powerful statement this year.
  • Much like Armstead, many of these players go above and beyond that. For example, the 49ers DE is also heavily involved in working on community projects that back up important social justice issues.
  • Through the appropriately named “Armstead Academic Project,” located in the Sacramento area where he grew up, he has pledged to give back to the community on his part after signing a five-year $85 million contract this offseason.

Within this initiative, Armstead launched a “Storytime with Arik Armstead” reading program and created several creative writing workshops for elementary school students. Other things he’s done for students are donating money for education, provide Internet access, raised money to buy Chromebooks, and even give healthy snacks to hundreds of kids going through online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.