Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines for taking a knee during the pre-game national anthem in a stand against system violence against minorities, recently received an award at the ACLU of Southern California’s annual Bill of Rights Dinner held in Beverly Hills, California.
Kaepernick, who started protesting against the social injustice toward the African-American community in the United States, was awarded with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award.
The accolade recognition was a surprise for the event guests, who gave him a standing ovation, passionately appreciating the former quarterback’s efforts.
While being honored with the award, Kaepernick made a rare public appearance where he gave a short yet strong statement about the rights of people who are being oppressed.
"We must confront systemic oppression as a doctor would a disease. You identify it, you call it out, you treat it, and you defeat it. We all have an obligation no matter the risk, and regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men and women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be compromised. In the words of Frederick Douglas, if there is no struggle, there is no progress. Thank you," he said before thanking the ACLU for their “unrelenting and unwavering work" in the "fight for social justice."
Before he started his speech, Kaepernick acknowledges the crowd’s admiration as he raised a closed fist to their cheers. An audience member can be heard saying, "You should still be playing," to which he laughed and said, "Yes!"
The 30-year-old ignited a national debate about political activism by athletes last year and throughout this NFL season.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media at the time of his protest beginning. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His protest against the rampant racial discrimination cost him his job. But many NFL players had joined in the movement, even after the NFL failed to employ the free-agent quarterback.
Kaepernick took to Twitter to thank the ACLU for the award.
Beyond humbled to receive the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award from the ACLU.— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) December 4, 2017
We all have an obligation no matter the risk, & regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men & women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be comprised. pic.twitter.com/47M2tJk0oh