Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick has been honored with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, the human rights organization announced today.
The award was officially presented at a ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 21, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Amnesty International’s national section in the country.
“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,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“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 stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power.”
During the 2016 pre-season of the National Football League, Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, as a respectful way of calling for the country to protect and uphold the rights of all its people. The bold move was a response to the disproportionate numbers of black people being killed by police. It sparked a movement that follows a long tradition of non-violent protests that have made history.
While the polarized response to the “take-a-knee” protest has ignited a debate about the right to protest and free speech, Kaepernick has remained focused on highlighting the injustices that moved him to act. His charity, the Colin Kaepernick Foundation, works to fight oppression around the world through education and social activism, including through free “Know Your Rights” camps which educate and empower young people.
“I would like to thank Amnesty International for the Ambassador of Conscience Award. But in truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force. To quote Malcolm X, when he said that he, ‘will join in with anyone — I don’t care what color you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth,’ I am here to join with you all in this battle against police violence,” said Kaepernick.
“While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people.”
Eric Reid, professional football player and Kaepernick’s former teammate, continued to show his support, as he presented Kaepernick with the Ambassador of Conscience award.
The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honor, recognizing individuals who have promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their lives and by example.