TAMPA, Fla. — A famous ice cream company is advocating for social justice and racial equity in Tampa leading up to Super Bowl LV.
Ben & Jerry’s commissioned a giant, vibrant mural featuring local students and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 30’ x 90’ mural is located at the corner of West Main Street and Albany Street, about three miles away from Raymond James Stadium.
“It is showing us that we are still respected,” said Ashley McKenzie, of Tampa. “We are still who we are, and that the Black Lives Matter movement means something to us and it means something to our area.”
Kaepernick became an unsigned free agent after spending a season kneeling during the National Anthem. He has since become an activist fighting against system racism and police brutality.
“As we look back, it’s clear that Colin was on the right side of history,” said Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry’s Head of Global Activism. “His pre-game protests were before George Floyd’s murder, before the 2020 summer of racial reckoning. He knew a long time ago that we need to address the root causes of racism and the structures of our society that are so brutal to Black people. We wanted to be part of the effort to honor Colin’s courage and legacy because we share the same values.”
Ben & Jerry’s also placed several billboards across Tampa featuring the former NFL quarterback.
On Thursday, Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell spoke on Kaepernick’s impact on the game and athlete activism.
“Colin was one of the individuals who obviously brought a great deal of attention to this,” said Goodell. “We now, I think, have a platform and an ability to work with our players to address those issues that they’ve identified in their communities, in our communities, that we can help and we can address.”
The mural, unveiled Wednesday, was created by Brandan “BMike” Odums, an activist, education and street artist who is a friend of Kaepernick and the designer of the Change the Whirled pint, a specialty ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s.
The mural, also named Change the Whirled, is part of a larger effort to support locally-owned businesses and community organizations in Old West Tampa.
“To seeing the positive images of African-Americans being displayed in this area just shows the rich history and culture that is here,” said McKenzie.