Stars who support Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (pictured center) stirred up controversy during the 2016 football season when he refused to stand during the national anthem, opting to kneel instead. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told NFL.com. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder," he said, referencing recent deaths involving black suspects and police.

His team issued a supplemental statement: "The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

Kaepernick's decision to make a statement during the anthem has proved fiercely divisive. Some deem his actions disrespectful to the people, history, and values the anthem represents, while others, including the following celebs, have thrown their support behind his protest.

J. Cole

North Carolina rapper J. Cole donned a white Kaepernick jersey during a performance of "A Tale of Two Citiez" in September 2016. That track details the hardships of achieving the so-called "American Dream."

According to Niners Nation, more Kaepernick merchandise was sold in the week following his protest than in the previous eight months combined.

Trey Songz

Rapper Trey Songz was also spotted wearing no. 7 while performing in Las Vegas.

In September 2016, Kaepernick pledged, via Instagram, to donate 100 percent of the proceeds he receives from his top-selling jerseys to "the communities." The backup quarterback said, "I want to thank everyone who has shown me love and support, it truly means a lot! I wasn't expecting my jersey sales to jump to number one because of this, but it show's the people's belief that we can achieve justice and equality for all!" He continued, "I believe in the people, and we can be the change!"

President Barack Obama

During the 2016 G20 Summit in China, Obama defended Kaepernick's actions, stating (via CNN) that the player is "exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there's a long history of sports figures doing so." Obama continued, "As a general matter, when it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who've fought for us—that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what [Kaepernick's] deeper concerns are."

"But I don't doubt his sincerity," the president said. "I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about and if nothing else what he's done is he's generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about."

Obama concluded with a sports analogy, "…I'd rather have young people engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than those who are just sitting on the sidelines."

John Legend

Grammy-winning musician John Legend was one of the first to jump to Kaepernick's defense in August 2016 when he posed the following question to Twitter: "For those defending the current anthem, do you really, truly love that song? I don't and I'm very good at singing it. Like, one of the best."

"My vote is for 'America the Beautiful'," he added. "'Star-Spangled Banner' is a weak song anyway."

Legend likened the football star's actions to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., telling Complex, "Dr. King was unpopular while he was alive―he's only popular now because he's dead and not a threat to anyone. But he was a threat to the status quo back then, and the people, the so-called 'moderates' used to say, 'Well, we're with you, but you gotta be more patient. We're with you, but you shouldn't protest like this.'"

"The reality is [Kaepernick is] protesting black men and women―people of color―getting shot by police when they're unarmed, and those police facing no consequences," Legend said. "Think about how corrosive that is for a society if we allow that to continue to happen. You're upset that he's kneeling down in peaceful protest, but you're not upset by what he's protesting against?"

Susan Sarandon

Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon told The Hollywood Reporter she bought a football jersey too. "I'm supporting him not because he's kneeling during the national anthem, but because he is doing something that has started a conversation, a dialogue that needs to be held about the roots of this country." She added, "I am sorry he faces a lot of hate, but anytime you're pointing out something people have managed to not look at for a long time, you're going to find hate as a response."

Speaking to those who burned Kaepernick's jerseys in protest, the actress said, "…I guess you have to burn all your references to [Ali] and Jackie Robinson and everyone else [then, too]. If you're doing something to challenge the status quo, it gets people upset. But the status quo needs to be challenged in this age. And they have a right to burn the jerseys, but this is a conversation that is about much more than just symbolism. This is about an ongoing injustice in this country."

Spike Lee

In August 2016, filmmaker and activist Spike Lee told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he unwaveringly supports Kaepernick. Lee said he found it "so interesting" how people "pick and choose" what rights they want—or will afford others—to exercise. Lee compared Kaepernick to boxing great Muhammad Ali, who drew sharp criticism when he refused to be drafted into the army during the Vietnam war. "How can you love Muhammad Ali and not love [Kaepernick] for the stance he took?" Lee said. In September 2016, Lee was spotted front row at a New York Fashion Week show wearing a Kaepernick jersey and hat.

Megan Rapinoe

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the playing of the national anthem at a women's soccer match in September 2016. The midfielder later told ESPN, "I am disgusted with the way [Kaepernick] has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this. It is overtly racist. 'Stay in your place, black man.' Just didn't feel right to me."

"We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated," she said. "And quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling."

T.I.

Rapper T.I. took to social media to support Kaepernick. T.I., posting a photo of Francis Scott Key, the lyricist of the "Star-Spangled Banner," to his Instagram with the following caption: "This is the gentleman who wrote the song U want US to stand up for???? Listen, I respect the troops. I respect their efforts. However, I also acknowledge that black soldiers fought & died in WW2 to defend freedoms & liberties overseas that they couldn't even receive for themselves when they made it back home as veterans. Me standing UP (or not standing) for mines shouldn't be taken as an insult against yours."

T.I. also shared a pic of Kaepernick and captioned it, "I'm Rockin' wit Bruh!!!!"

Tina Knowles Lawson

Tina Knowles Lawson—Beyoncé's mom—minced no words with her Instagram post in defense of Kaepernick. "The people that are so offended and appalled by Mr. [Kaepernick's] protest: I'd like to know if they are as outraged by all the senseless killing of minorities, all of the racial injustices in America that people are okay with. We turn a blind eye to it and as long as it is not affecting us personally, we avoid thinking, discussing, protesting, and doing a thing about it."

Regarding Kaepernick, she said, "Here is a man that is taking a non-violent stand to bring attention to this horrible problem. He is not saying he does not love or respect his country or our flag, but [that] the flag is supposed to be a symbol of freedom, equality, and justice for all!"

She concluded her lengthy post with a question: "What will we do today to contribute to change no [matter] how small?"

Steve Harvey

Even normally light-hearted Family Feud host Steve Harvey jumped into the mix on Twitter. "[In my opinion], the anthem protest isn't anti-government/military," he said, "it's drawing attention to how the country isn't living up to the words [of the song]."

"'Land of the free' ain't true for all sadly," he said. "Free to go to the store and buy Skittles?" Harvey was alluding to the death of Trayvon Martin. Harvey concluded, "Ain't that what America about though? Being able to express your opinion?"

John Leguizamo

Tying it to the 2016 Presidential election, Ice Age actor John Leguizamo tweeted, "Latin stars and athletes need to jump into this election and make some noise! Don't make me call you out!! Be #Kaepernick and stand up!"

Chris Brown

Embattled singer Chris Brown voiced his support for Kaepernick and his movement in a since-deleted Instagram post. "Proud of my brother [Kaepernick] for actually trying to be the change by setting the example!" he said, via Vibe.

According to TMZ, Brown sat and screwed around with pals during a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a charity basketball game that coincided with the 2016 anniversary of 9/11. The anthem's performer, Tank, specifically requested that even though protests were happening around the country, he'd like the crowd to stand to honor the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Brown was clearly unmoved. Oh, and he later got into an altercation with a fan that required police involvement.

Charlie Sheen

Though a seemingly random supporter, Sheen did stand up for Kaepernick's kneeling. TMZ cornered the actor outside a Hollywood hotspot to ask him how he felt about the football player's statement. Sheen initially responded, "I get both sides of it," but when pressed about whether or not he supported the protest, he said, "F**k yeah!" and flashed peace signs.

Gabrielle Union

Actress Gabrielle Union addressed the anthem controversy during a panel discussion following a screening of Birth of a Nation. According to Variety, she said, "If you are wondering about [Kaepernick] and his stand for equality and if he's on the right side of history, there's nothing more patriotic than resistance."