Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been awarded a human and civil rights award from The National Education Association.
Kaepernick was presented with the association’s highest honor, the NEA President’s Award, for his work in fighting “racial oppression through education and social justice activism” with his Know Your Rights Camp, a free campaign for youths fully funded by Kaepernick.
The athlete's youth camp seeks to “raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios,” according to the campaign’s website.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the streets," Kaepernick said of the honor in another release from the association.
"The human and civil rights champions we honor tonight are the epitome of the fierce urgency of now that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke about in his 'I Have a Dream speech,' " NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a press release Sunday.
"Through their deeds and actions, they have demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice,” García continued. “They have shown an unrelenting resolve and ferocity to make a real difference for public education, students and our nation’s future. They are shining examples of social justice activism, fighting against injustices every day, and making sure that our great nation lives up to its promise."
Kaepernick first captured widespread attention in 2016 after he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games to protest racial injustice against African-Americans.
The NFL implemented a new policy for 2018 that bans athletes from kneeling during the national anthem, which the president later celebrated, suggesting that those who can't "stand proudly" during the anthem “shouldn’t be in the country.”