Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick accepted a black history and culture award from Harvard University on Friday, joining the ranks of Maya Angelou, Opera Winfrey, and Muhammad Ali.
The controversial former 49ers player accepted the W.E.B. Du Bois medal along with comedian Dave Chappel and five other honorees.
Kaepernick wrote on Twitter he was “grateful” for the recognition.
Thank you Harvard University for honoring me tonight with the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. I’m grateful for this recognition and to be amongst the other highly esteemed honorees that inspire me.
Photo Credit: Amari Kenoly @foot_candles pic.twitter.com/plXOBuwBlF
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) October 12, 2018
In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick addressed his protest of the national anthem at football games and how he felt responsible for using his platform for good.
“And I feel like it’s not only my responsibility but all our responsibilities as people that are in positions of privilege, in positions of power, to continue to fight for them and uplift them, empower them. Because if we don’t we become complicit in the problem. It is our duty to fight for them and we are going to continue to fight for them.
Additionally, the former quarterback referenced his recent ad campaign with Nike, where his tagline of “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” became controversial.
“As I reflected on that, it made me think of if we all believe something, we won’t have to sacrifice everything,” he said. “And in thinking about the initiation of this protest, this stance, and where we’re at currently, I go back to something I said in a speech previously, that love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything that we do.”
Cameras were not allowed to film during the speech, but this video shows Kaepernick accepting the medal and the crowd cheering him on.
— Eric Kane (@EricKaneTV) October 11, 2018
Other recipients of the award included artist Kehinde Wiley, who painted the portrait of former president Barack Obama, and Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.