Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Thursday received Harvard University's most prestigious black history award.
Kaepernick, who was the first NFL player to demonstrate against racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem, received the W.E.B. DuBois award alongside seven other African-American public figures at a Harvard ceremony.
He urged others to further protest racial inequality and police brutality to help improve the lives of African Americans across the country.
"I feel like it's not only my responsibility, but all of 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," he said. "It is our duty to fight for them and we are going to continue to fight for them."
Activist Cornel West introduced Kaepernick and compared his protest to those of famous boxer Muhammad Ali.
“We don’t have anybody who comes close to the Muhammad Ali of athletics, to give up millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars…It’s not the number, it’s the integrity, rather than the popularity," he said.
Kaepernick claims the NFL prevented him from signing with an NFL team over his protests.
He was recognized alongside comedian Dave Chapelle and artist Kehinde Wiley, who painted the presidential portraits of former President Obama.
Other recipients included Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Shirley Ann Jackson; psychologist and author Florence Ladd; and others.
Nike several weeks ago announced a new ad campaign featuring Kaepernick, who has become the face of the NFL protests against police brutality and racial discrimination.
He has claimed that his decision to speak out harmed his career, filing a complaint in recent weeks claiming NFL teams are discriminating against him due to his participation in the protests.
Nike saw an uptick in its sales after it launched the Kaepernick campaign.
NFL players have continued to protest during the national anthem, with some taking a knee while others raise their fists and sit down.
The league briefly created a policy that barred players from protesting during the anthem, only to walk it back shortly after due to immense pushback from players and fans alike.
The president has taken on the NFL players' protests as a cultural lightning rod, denouncing the demonstrators as unpatriotic and anti-police.
Some have claimed Trump's comments are racially discriminatory, as they target a group of mostly-black players demonstrating against police violence.