Kaepernick made headlines at the beginning of the 2016-17 NFL season when he refused to stand for the national anthem. The quarterback, as a result, started a movement for racial equality and social justice, inspiring other athletes and entertainers to speak out. Kaepernick was dropped by the 49ers early this year and hasn't been picked up by another NFL team since.
On receiving his award, Kaepernick said: “I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America. I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.”
When the honor was first announced by the magazine, Muhammad Ali’s wife, Lonnie, noted, “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard.”
Beyoncé herself is a fellow equality advocate, using her smash 2016 album, Lemonade, to fire back at police brutality and gender disparity.
Read Beyonce's full speech below.
“Thank you Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart, and your conviction. Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color. We’re still waiting for the world to catch up. It’s been said that racism is so American, that when we protest racism, some assume we are protesting America. So, let’s be very clear. Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selfless serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social injustice for historically disenfranchised people. Let’s not get that mistaken.