Civil rights figures kick off Super Bowl with coin toss
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Rep. John LewisJohn LewisLiberals surprised by tax vote vow to kill 'Free File' provision House passes bill to modernize IRS The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump looks to get tougher on border with Nielsen out MORE (D-Ga.), former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., helped kick off the Super Bowl on Sunday by taking part in the coin toss. 

Footage from the game shows Lewis and Young, a pair of civil rights icons, as well as King heading to midfield before the game officially began. King flipped the coin, tweeting moments after that this was a "significant moment." 

"My mission is , Humanity is turning the tide and our efforts must include bridge builders, strategic negotiators and ambassadors," King tweeted. 

The Los Angeles Rams won the toss and elected to defer, giving the New England Patriots the ball to start the game. 

Lewis, Young and King are all historic African-American figures in Georgia, where the Super Bowl is taking place this year. 

Lewis, a longtime congressman, was one of the many activists to march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965 to advocate for expanded voting rights for African-Americans. He suffered a skull fracture after Alabama state troopers confronted protestors in what is now historically referred to as "Bloody Sunday."

Lewis, Young and King's appearance at the Super Bowl also comes amid a time in which the NFL faces scrutiny over President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE's past attacks against players who have kneeled during the national anthem. 

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel to protest racial injustice and police brutality in 2016. He became a free agent following the 2016-17 season and has yet to sign with a team since. 

Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners in 2017 and claimed they colluded to keep him out of the league.


Multiple professional athletes, including NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, wore jerseys supporting Kaepernick over the weekend. Rapper Cardi B also said Friday that she turned down an opportunity to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show so she could "stand behind" Kaepernick and his protests against the treatment of people of color.

The Super Bowl also comes amid a nationwide controversy involving a racist photo in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) medical school yearbook. The photo surfaced last week and features a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe on the governor's 1984 yearbook page. 

Northam said Saturday that he believes he was not in the photo in question. He has so far refused calls to resign.