Former National Football League star Colin Kaepernick has been recognized for his human rights work by the National Education Association on Sunday.
Kaepernick, who is the brainchild of the #TakeAKnee campaign, received the President’s Award for his unparalleled work in advocating for the rights of African-Americans in the US, which began when he took a knee during the national anthem about two years ago as a sign of indignation over the killings.
“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 streets,” said Kaepernick.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said during the awarding ceremony that those receiving the award has shown “remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice.”
“They have shown an unrelenting resolve and ferocity to make a real difference for public education, students, and our nation’s future. They are shining examples of social justice activism, fighting against injustices every day, and making sure that our great nation lives up to its promise,” Garcia added.
As part of Kaepernick’s advocacy, he worked against “racial oppression through education and social justice activism.”
His relentless effort, the NEA said, led to the spread of the #TakeAKnee campaign throughout the NFL and “forced an ongoing, national conversation about the treatment of black Americans by law enforcement.”
This year, the NFL has issued a rather controversial policy, banning their players from kneeling during the national anthem. The league said those who cannot “stand proudly” should not be in the US. Critics believe that the recent NFL policy is a response to US President Donald Trump’s threat to have those kneeling during the national anthem fired.
“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 said.
As it is, a report said that Kaepernick’s continuous involvement in the #TakeAKnee campaign has “jeopardized his career and endorsements and was let go by the 49ers after the 2016 season. He is currently a free agent.”