Former 49ers quarterback turned activist Colin Kaepernick received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard on Thursday.
The medal is the university’s “highest honor in the field of African and African American studies” and is given “to individuals in the United States and across the globe in recognition of their contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind.”
As the 2018 recipient, Kaepernick joins the likes of Muhammad Ali (2015) and Maya Angelou (2014), among others.
Kaepernick’s remarks were released to the media after the event.
“As I was sitting there, and I was thinking about what I was going to say up here, I had a short speech written but it just didn’t seem true to what it should’ve been with the authenticity and the passion and the inspiration that’s in this room,” Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick went on to share an anecdote from the week after he first took a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice in America. After that game in early September 2016, he visited a high school in Oakland that reaffirmed his stance, he said.
“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,” Kaepernick said.
“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.”
Kaepernick requested that the media not record or broadcast his speech, however he did allow his remarks to be on the record. So here is what he said: pic.twitter.com/KewUJJp0iB
— Eric Kane (@EricKaneTV) October 11, 2018
Kaepernick, 30, is currently in the midst of a collusion grievance against the NFL. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017 and has not found work in the NFL since.
In January, Kaepernick completed his pledge of donating $1 million to charities and other organizations that serve oppressed communities across the nation.