Colin Kaepernick may not be on an NFL roster, but that has allowed him to make an even bigger impact off the field as he continues to fight racial injustice and help communities in need. For his efforts off of the field, Kaepernick received a great honor from Harvard University on Thursday night.
Kaepernick was one of eight recipients of Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Medal which is “Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African-American studies.”
When Kaepernick accepted his award, he scrapped a planned speech in order to speak from the heart.
“I had a short speech written, but it just didn’t seem true to what it should’ve been with the authenticity and the passion and the inspiration that’s been in this room,” Kaepernick said, via WHDH Boston’s Eric Kane. He asked that his speech not be broadcast, but allowed the comments to be on record so a transcript surfaced online.
In his speech, Kaepernick addressed the being the face of the latest Nike campaign and why he kneels.
“I’m going to start by sharing a story of when I first took a knee. And that following week, a whole high school football team, Castlemont High School – Oakland, California… their whole football team took a knee in support of what I was doing. So, I went to go visit these young brothers and spend game day with them and I’m in the locker room with them, they’re getting ready, they’re getting prepped. And I hear them talking back and forth getting hyped up,” Kaepernick recalled.
“One of the young brothers says ‘We don’t get to eat at home, so we’re going to eat on this field. That moment has never left me. And I’ve carried that everywhere I went. And I think that’s the reality of what I’ve fought for, what so many of us have fought for. People live with this every single day. And we expect them to thrive in situations where they’re just trying to survive.
“And I feel like it’s not only my responsibility but all our responsibilities as people that are in positions of privilege, in positions of power, to continue to fight for them and uplift them, empower them. Because if we don’t we become complicit in the problem. It is our duty to fight for them and we are going to continue to fight for them.”
You can read Kaepernick’s full acceptance speech here.