Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Human Rights Education (HRE)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Monisha Bajaj



Building on the scholarship of Schmidt, Frederick, Pegoraro, and Spencer (2018), the purpose of this study was to explore the narratives related to Colin Kaepernick’s and Megan Rapinoe’s athlete activism. This research was generated by conducting a thematic inductive analysis of 927 Twitter comments collected from the Twitter feeds of Kaepernick and Rapinoe during the time period of August 14th, 2016 to October 18th, 2016. The purpose of this analysis was to understand (a) how an athlete's right to protest can result in a Anti-American narrative (b) the language that characterized the public sentiment toward Kaepernick and Rapinoe (c) the ways in which the public understand, or misunderstands, Kaepernick and Rapinoe’s intended message.

Results from this study indicate that media and media-framing had a negative impact on the public discourse related to Kaepernick and Rapinoe. Both Critical Race Theory and Queer Thoery are used to understand Kaepernick and Rapinoe’s complicated and intersectional narratives and agendas. Recommendations based on these conclusions include (a) public engagement on the issue of police brutality (b) media framing strategies to mediate public discourse (c) suggestions for addressing bias in the media (d) the use of theoretical frameworks for future research (f) addressing how athlete-advocacy may result in changes in attitudes and behavior that are either reflected in, or influence, public discourse.