Following the murder of George Floyd, protests began across the United States as citizens fought against racial injustice and police brutality. Many celebrities have used their platform to speak out against racial injustice, including multiple WWE superstars.
Floyd, a black man, was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as Floyd gasped, "I can't breathe."
Randy Orton was perhaps among the surprising voices supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as in 2016, he was on the side of the flag while Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality during the national anthem.
'Literally just a flag' wow. Loss for words https://t.co/mkLrgLEdBw— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) September 21, 2016
Sneering? More like shaking my head. Courage? Lol riiiight. Courage. Thats what it takes to stand up and fight, not raise a fist. https://t.co/DqQt11cNmS— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) September 20, 2016
Americans are dying. Pigment of skin doesn't matter. American people matter. https://t.co/MgUbMiPteM— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) September 21, 2016
In 2020, Orton had changed his tune.
Speaking to CBS Sports, Orton discussed how he was educated by his peers in learning more about racial injustice and why it was never just about the flag.
"When Kaepernick was kneeling, I looked at it as disrespecting the American flag and that he was disrespecting the servicemen and women who fight for our freedom and our free speech and come home in a coffin when they give the ultimate sacrifice. That coffin draped in an American flag. I think I went on Booker T's radio show and even said those things and I believed them," he said. "It took me a little time, but what I had to do was realize, Kaepernick, he wasn't shiting on the flag. He wasn't disrespecting the people that have given their lives for our freedom. He was taking a stand against police brutality. As a white guy, I don't see it. But then I started listening to my black brothers and sisters, especially the ones I've known for years and some for more than a decade. I was hearing first-hand accounts of interactions with cops that took advantage of the situation and the power they had because they maybe felt a certain way about the color of someone's skin. That's when the lightbulb went off."
Orton continued, "I'm embarrassed to say it, but it took me a little while but I get it. What I said on Twitter, I stand behind. If anyone doesn't agree with me, I think they need to do more digging. Go look at Big E's Twitter from a week ago, go look at Xavier Woods' Twitter, go look at things Kofi said, that Mark Henry said, that Shelton said, that R-Truth said. If you read what they're saying and try to put yourself in their shoes for even just a minute, you're going to see right now that it's not fair. All lives do matter, but like I said on Twitter, until black lives matter, all lives can't matter. My only regret is that it took me a little bit and some soul searching to see that. The more that social media has allowed us to see these horrific videos -- and it wasn't just George Floyd. I've seen so many after I did a little digging. You realize it is tough to be a black person in this country, and we've got a ways to go before all lives truly matter. I think what we have to do is make sure black lives matter, and I think white people, like me, especially with a platform, saying that? Sitting on your laurels and not saying anything? I don't think that's helping anything. You need to get out there and get in this conversation. You need to insert yourself. That is what I was trying to do."