Nike Pulls Sneakers Featuring The Betsy Ross Flag After Colin Kaepernick Calls It An “Offensive Symbol”

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

For some, the flag is a symbol of white supremacy and nationalism.

Nike has pulled sneakers bearing the Betsy Ross flag after receiving a complaint from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

READ: Colin Kaepernick Scores Million-Dollar Book Deal

The Air Max 1 USA shoes, which were set to be released this week in honor of Independence Day, were scrapped by the footwear corporation after Kaepernick spoke out against its incorporation of the the 1770s-era Betsy Ross flag of the U.S. on its heel.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the activist “reached out to company officials saying that he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery, the people said. Some users on social media responded to posts about the shoe with similar concerns.”

After receiving the response, Nike asked stores that had already gotten the sneakers to return them. The sneakers are also unavailable on Nike’s apps or websites.

An early design of the flag of the United States, the Betsy Ross flag featured 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies of America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, it is unknown if Betsy Ross, an upholsterer, actually contributed to the flag’s design, despite it being named after her. Although Ross’ descendants claim she contributed to the design, some American scholars and historians disagree with the claim.

As the Journal notes, in recent time, the flag has been appropriated as a symbol for white supremacy and nationalism.

Per the Journal:

“In 2016, the superintendent of a Michigan school district apologized after students waved the Betsy Ross flag at a high school football game, saying that for some it is a symbol of white supremacy and nationalism, according to, a local news outlet. While the flag’s use isn’t widespread, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said at the time that it has been appropriated by some extremist groups opposed to America’s increasing diversity.”

Source: Wall Street Journal

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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