Colin Kaepernick began using his platform to propel the dialogue surrounding police brutality last August. But an unintended consequence of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s silent protest is that we’ve almost forgotten what his literal voice sounds like — until now.
On Tuesday night, Kaepernick was awarded the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during the brand’s Sportsperson of the Year Award Show. The Dec. 5 ceremony, which honored the free agent who propelled the movement against police brutality by kneeling during the pre-game national anthem, took place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Comedian Trevor Noah gave Kaep’s introduction before the advocate was presented with the award by an icon of a different domain, Beyoncé.
“Thank you Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart, and your conviction,” the “Freedom singer said. “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.”
Bey also used this time to negate the tiring misconception that Kaepernick’s protest aims to villify America.
“It’s been said that racism is so American, that when we protest racism, some assume we are protesting America,” she continued. “So, let’s be very clear. Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selfless 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.”
Beyoncé presents Colin Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at the Sports Illustrated Awards tonight! pic.twitter.com/U9J4gwmGdA
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 6, 2017
Kaepernick gave a few words on the controversial protest he ignited last August after accepting the award.
“I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America,” he said. “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.”
By receiving the Ali honor, Kaepernick follows in the footsteps of other athletic icons such as Bill Russell, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Sportspersons of the Year Award airs on NBCSN AT 8 pm ET on Monday, Dec. 8.