This past Saturday, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was named Amnesty International’s 2018 Ambassador of Conscience for this protest against police brutality. The award is given out every year to “individuals and groups who speak out for justice.”
The award was presented to Kaepernick at a ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands and coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Amnesty International’s national section in the country.
According to Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, “The Ambassador of Conscience award celebrates the spirit of activism and exceptional courage, as embodied by Colin Kaepernick. He is an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination. Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a sand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice.”
Kaepernick’s “take a knee” stand is believed by many to have cost him his career as he has not been picked up by any team since he became a free agent after the 2016 season. But he is pushing on with his activism regardless of the backlash he has received. His charity, the Colin Kaepernick Foundation, recently finished donating $1 million to organizations that help underprivileged communities.
He said the following in his acceptance speech at the award ceremony:
“Radicalized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation– the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex.”
Kaepernick also recognized onetime teammate and fellow protestor Eric Reid, who presented the award to him.
“Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy,” Kaepernick said. “But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognize as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career.”
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