Colin Kaepernick, Dave Chappelle receive Harvard black history award

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback turned civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick received an honorary award from Harvard University Thursday for his influence on black history and culture.

Kaepernick, who became the key figure in NFL player protests against police brutality and racial injustice in America in 2016, received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

The controversial face of Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ campaign was among eight other recipients, including comedian Dave Chappelle.

Kaepernick sported a smile as he presented an acceptance speech at the ceremony. He said he initially wrote a speech on paper, but decided to speak from the heart.

Colin Kaepernick and Bryan Stevenson are seen stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 11, 2018

Colin Kaepernick and Bryan Stevenson are seen stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 11, 2018

Colin Kaepernick and Bryan Stevenson are seen stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 11, 2018

The former NFL quarterback received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

The former NFL quarterback received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

The former NFL quarterback received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

While speaking about the meaning of the protests, he said of minorities: ‘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.

‘I go to what recently happened with the Nike campaign, where “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” quote became huge.’

He added: ‘As I reflected on that, it made me think, if we all believe in something, we won’t have to sacrifice everything… and in thinking about the initiation of this protest, this stance, and where we’re at currently, I go back to something I said in a speech previously.

Kaepernick, right, hugs comedian Dave Chappelle, left, on stage during the award ceremonies Thursday at Harvard University in Cambridge

Kaepernick, right, hugs comedian Dave Chappelle, left, on stage during the award ceremonies Thursday at Harvard University in Cambridge

Kaepernick, right, hugs comedian Dave Chappelle, left, on stage during the award ceremonies Thursday at Harvard University in Cambridge

Chappelle, left, displays his W.E.B. Du Bois Medal as presenter Glenn Hutchins, right, looks on

Chappelle, left, displays his W.E.B. Du Bois Medal as presenter Glenn Hutchins, right, looks on

Chappelle, left, displays his W.E.B. Du Bois Medal as presenter Glenn Hutchins, right, looks on

The controversial new face of Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign was among eight other recipients

The controversial new face of Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign was among eight other recipients

Kaepernick smiles as he is seated on stage during W.E.B. Du Bois Medal ceremonies on Thursday

Kaepernick smiles as he is seated on stage during W.E.B. Du Bois Medal ceremonies on Thursday

Kaepernick smiles as he is seated on stage during W.E.B. Du Bois Medal ceremonies on Thursday

‘That love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything that we do. Thank you.’ 

Also honored at the prestigious award ceremony were Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Kenneth Chenault, chairman and a managing director of General Catalyst.

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Pamela Joyner, founder of Avid Partners, LLC as well as artist Kehinde Wiley and psychologist and author Florence Ladd. 

Kaepernick’s full acceptance speech for Harvard’s black history award

‘Thank you, thank you – I’m not quite sure what to say after that. Thank you, that’s amazing. As I was sitting there, and I was thinking about what I was going to say up here, I had a short speech written, but it just didn’t seem true to what it should have been with the authenticity and the passion and the inspiration that’s in the room.

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… and 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. I think that’s the reality of what I found 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.

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. 

And I go to what recently happened with the Nike campaign, where “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” quote became huge.

As I reflected on that, it made me think, if we all believe in something, we won’t have to sacrifice everything. And in thinking about the initiation of this protest, this stance, and where we’re at currently, I go back to something I said in a speech previously.

That love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything that we do. Thank you.’

 

 

Pamela Joyner and Chappelle are seen on stage at the ceremonies at Harvard Thursday in Cambridge

Pamela Joyner and Chappelle are seen on stage at the ceremonies at Harvard Thursday in Cambridge

Pamela Joyner and Chappelle are seen on stage at the ceremonies at Harvard Thursday in Cambridge

Chappelle and Kaepernick laugh on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony Thursday at Harvard University

Chappelle and Kaepernick laugh on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony Thursday at Harvard University

Chappelle and Kaepernick laugh on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony Thursday at Harvard University

The face of Nike's new 'Just Do It' campaign said in his speech: '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'

The face of Nike's new 'Just Do It' campaign said in his speech: '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'

The face of Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ campaign said in his speech: ‘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’

Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California

Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California

Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California

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