Colin Kaepernick has been honored for his activism by Amnesty International as the organization’s 2018 Ambassador of Conscience. Kaepernick joins the ranks of South African President Nelson Mandela, who was honored for his fight against apartheid, along with Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai, who campaigned for girls’ right to education after she was shot by members of the Taliban.
Amnesty International is said to be particularly impressed by the still-unsigned quarterback’s convictions in the face of massive backlash for taking a knee during the national anthem. According to NPR, Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick’s protest “remarkable” considering the “vitriol” being spewed by his detractors.
Kaepernick’s stance has likely cost him a job in the NFL, but the former San Francisco 49ers player has refused to back down. He is moving forward with his collusion case against the league and will continue his activism off the field. In his acceptance speech, the veteran quarterback reiterated his reasons for demonstrating in the first place.
“Racialized 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 said, according to NPR.
Kaepernick went on to question how anyone could stand for a national anthem that claims to value “freedom and justice for all” when it is clearly “unjust to so many” of its citizens.
Eric Reid, a former 49ers teammate and the first NFL player to take a knee with Kaepernick, was in Amsterdam to present his friend with the award. Reid is now a free agent and may be facing a similar fate.
Reid has not been offered a job in the NFL and was recently questioned by the Cincinnati Bengals about his plans to protest next season. Reid did not make a commitment one way or the other and the Bengals organization passed on making him a job offer, according to The New York Post.
"How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialised injustice?"@Kaepernick7 explains why standing up for justice sometimes requires you to #TakeAKnee as he accepts @amnesty #AmbassadorOfConscience award from @E_Reid35 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/nNCHKiOJ1V— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) April 22, 2018
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told the press during the NFL owners’ meetings in March that the team is “about playing football” and that “this is not the place to be” if a player has “other agendas.”
Colin Kaepernick said on Saturday that while he is overjoyed by the Ambassador of Conscience Award, he is also “pained” that Reid is being ostracized by the NFL. He acknowledged his former teammate as a fierce competitor who is “in the prime of his career.” Kaepernick believes that Eric Reid should have a job in the NFL.