Kaepernick Recognized for Selfless Sacrifices


Photo found @KarlFergusonJr

Kaepernick accepting his most recent award.

  Colin Kaepernick, once a QB for the 49ers, started making headlines last year when he began protesting police brutality during the National Anthem at football games. In August of 2016, Kaepernick gained attention after sitting during the anthem of preseason games. He went on to start kneeling instead, which sparked a protest that swept the NFL. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” said Kaepernick to NFL Media. Other players from his team, other NFL teams, as well as athletes from other sports joined in on the protest in some form; sitting, kneeling, raising a fist, or staying in a locker room during the anthem. The demonstration gained much political and social attention surrounding police brutality against African-Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reactions to the movement varied greatly. Many applauded Kaepernick’s initiative and bravery to bring attention to social injustice, while others found his protest to be disrespectful to the flag. One critic of Kaepernick’s movement included Donald Trump, who has tweeted multiple times about the offense of football players not standing for the anthem. “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!” tweeted the president. But over the critics, many fans, fellow athletes, and celebrities have taken to social media to cheer on and stand with athletes taking a knee, including Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted: “As a football fan, I am proud of the NFL players today. Nothing is more American than the right to peacefully protest.”

Off the football field, Kaepernick works actively in charity, constantly striving to improve the community around him. He founded Know Your Rights Camp, a program with the goal of educating and empowering youth on how to handle law enforcement. The free campaign hosts events across the country informing people of their 10 rights. (Read more here.) Kaepernick also began donating money in October 2016 towards a Million Dollar Pledge, promising to donate one million dollars and all jersey sales of his 2016 season to groups working in oppressed communities.

Kaepernick has been recognized and commended for his commitment to making strides in social justice; he was honored as GQ’s Man of the Year, and most recently was honored with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. The award was presented to him by Beyoncé at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards on December 5th, who in her introduction, thanked Kaepernick for his selfless heart and sacrifice. As Kaepernick accepted the award, he said that he will continue to “work for the people” in line with all that he has been doing since he grabbed the spotlight.

Who knew you had to kneel down to stand up?