Colin Kaepernick Receives Amnesty International's Top Award For Activism

“This is an award that I share with ... people throughout the world."

Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick was named Amnesty International's 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Saturday at a ceremony in Amsterdam. The award is given each year to a group or individual making a public stand for human rights. The organization cited the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback continued opposition to racial injustice in the statement announcing the award. 


Kaepernick's activism caught national attention in 2016 when he started kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. Other players, and later team owners and celebrities, joined in the protest. Kaepernick became a free agent following the 2016 season, and, as of publication, no team has opted to add him to their roster. 

"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 said in an official statement. "While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people."

In addition to his activism, Kaepernick has created the Colin Kaepernick Foundation that works to fight oppression around the world. In January, the foundation completed its pledge to donate $1 million to organizations that serve underprivileged communities. 

According to Amnesty International, the organization hopes to "raise awareness of inspirational stories and human rights issues and encourage public action" with the Ambassador of Conscience Award. Past recipients include Malala Yousafzai, Alicia Keys, and Nelson Mandela.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation," Kaepernick said at the ceremony, per The Associated Press. "How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?"

Cover image: Ga Fullner /


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