The National Football League is busy giving Colin Kaepernick the cold shoulder, as the snubbed quarterback wins international praise for his crusade against racial injustice.
Amnesty International, a global human rights organization, awarded Kaepernick its 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Award. He accepted the prize on Saturday at a ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The award recognizes individuals who have “promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their lives and by example.” Kaepernick joins an elite circle that includes previous winners Nelson Mandela and Harry Belafonte.
“I would like to thank Amnesty International for the Ambassador of Conscience Award,” the Super Bowl quarterback said in his acceptance speech. “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.”
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in the 2016 season to protest the wave of police killings of unarmed Black men and the racial bias in the criminal justice system. He inspired the “take-a-knee” protest among players. At the same time, it sparked harsh criticism from opponents—including President Donald Trump— who ignored the reason for the demonstration and accused the mostly African-American athletes of being unpatriotic.
In response to the controversy, NFL owners allegedly colluded to keep Kaepernick unsigned by an NFL team. It appears that he’ll go yet another season not playing in the league.
“Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks,” said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International. “When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice.”