Meet the Cat-Loving, Smart-Ass Brooklyn Artist Who ‘Sits With Kaepernick’

A Jewish Brooklyn artist has plastered the borough with “I Sit With Kaepernick” posters backing the now-famous protest of football superstar Colin Kaepernick.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback became part of a nation-wide controversy with his refusal to stand during the national anthem to protest racism and the oppression of black people in America.

Designer Jeff Rothberg took the protest to heart.

“I just couldn’t understand why he was getting such a negative reaction for what he was standing up for,” Rothberg told dnainfo. He added that Kaepernick’s message is relevant to everyone regardless of race or religion.

“It’s important for our society to have conversations like this to bring light to issues that have plagued our country,” Rothberg told the Forward.

So he designed a poster and put it up all over Brooklyn, just in time for the kickoff of football season.

The posters show a kneeling black football player surrounded by an American flag. The caption reads “I Sit With Kaepernick” and “End Justice for All.” The design is inspired by classic football trading cards from 1963 - the year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Rothberg told dnainfo. He also added a peace sign on the player’s jersey and a blindfold as a nod to Lady Justice.

Here are some facts about the artist who wants you to sit with Kaepernick.

  • Rothberg is a self-described “proud Jewish American, true New Yorker, artist, friend, lover, hustler and full time smart-ass.”

  • His last big hit was a poster he put up all over the city for the “Battle of Brooklyn” - the primary debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Brooklyn Navy Yard back in April.

  • Rothberg is a former athlete, and went to college to play baseball. But a thumb injury on his dominant throwing hand cut his career short. “Since I wasn’t able to play I ended up settling in and enjoying college for what it was,” he told the Forward. He is still a major sports fan though, and even designed a special jersey for the Brooklyn Nets (see picture above).

  • Rothberg loves cats. On Facebook, he has this adorable picture of “Papi,” his “Kosher Kitty.”
  • He is the founder of Unnecessary Clothing, a grassroots streetwear company that focuses on designs which “juxtapose the lack of originality found in fashion infiltrating the market today,” according to their website.

  • He went to Hebrew School, but never had a Bar Mitzvah, because his parents were going through a divorce at the time. While he hasn’t included many Jewish references in his art, he plans to work them in more in the future.

  • He studied Communication Design at the Pratt Institute. These days, he works with a wide array of mediums - from digital design and videography, to clothing design, Lino print and even stained glass.

  • As a college student, Rothberg worked as a DJ. “I would spin at parties both on and off campus. I worked at shows like the Grammys, MTV Video Music Awards, the Daytime Emmy’s and VH1’s Vogue Fashion Awards to name a few,” he told the Forward.

  • He designed the artwork for hip-hop artist French Montana’s hit singles “Shot Caller,” “Shot Caller Remix” and “Everything’s A Go.”

Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. Reach her at maier@forward.com or on Twitter at @lillymmaier.

Author

Lilly Maier

Lilly Maier

Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. She is a graduate journalism student at New York University, where she studies as a Fulbright scholar. She also holds a B.A. in Jewish history from the University of Munich.
Contact Lilly at maier@forward.com, read her portfolio, or follow her on Twitter.

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