Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka has come under fire after saying there hasn’t been any racial oppression in the United States in 100 years.
In a radio interview with Jim Gray before “Monday Night Football,” Ditka weighed in on players who kneel during the national anthem. He said the act was unnecessary and he would bench players who protested.
Gray then asked Ditka about athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens using their platforms for social justice.
Ditka said that one has to “be color blind” in this country and that skin color “has never had anything to do with anything.”
“All of a sudden, it has become a big deal now — about oppression,” Ditka said. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody — race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, you can accomplish anything. And we have watched that throughout our history of our country.”
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.
Ditka’s comments caused a widespread backlash on social media.