Beyoncé celebrated Colin Kaepernick’s civil rights activism by presenting him with the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Tuesday (Dec. 5).
Taking the stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in an sequined mini dress, Queen Bey paid tribute to the former NFL quarterback, who refused to stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality while he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
“Thank you, Colin Kaepernick,” she said. “Thank you for your selfless heart and your conviction. Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better, to change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color. We’re still waiting for the world to catch up. It’s been said that racism is so American, that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America. So, let’s be very clear. Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selflessly serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social injustice for historically disenfranchised people. Let’s not get that mistaken.”
Kap, who has not been picked up by an NFL team for this season, took the stage to accept the award, saying that all of the credit should go to the people. “I accept this award knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people, one who was affectionately known as the people’s champ. I accept this award, not for myself, but on behalf of the people,” he said. “If it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. If it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.”
“The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah was also on-hand to celebrate Kap. “When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality in America, no one could have predicted how that one action would go on to inspire a national conversation about race, patriotism and even freedom of speech,” he said.
‘Yoncé’s husband, JAY-Z, also celebrated Kaepernick during a recent concert, before performing “The Story of O.J.,” a song about race and financial empowerment. “I want to dedicate this song to Colin Kaepernick tonight,” he said. “I want to dedicate this song to anyone that was held back and you overcame.”
Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and G-Eazy have also saluted Kaepernick for fighting against police brutality. The latter spoke with Colin’s girlfriend Nessa about the impact he’s had. “All you can say is thank you for being the biggest voice and saying it so loud, accurately, and forcefully, passionately, and genuinely. It was incredible from every angle,” he said. “He hit the topics right on the head and standing with Kap, saying that loud, being him, having his platform, his voice, and doing that was incredible. And he snapped. That was dumb fire. There’s a reason why he’s the greatest.”