Girls run the world, but NFL star and political activist Colin Kaepernick is pretty inspiring. That’s why Beyoncé made a surprise appearance at the Tuesday, December 5, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Ceremony in New York to present the former 49ers quarterback with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
The 20-time Grammy winner shared her gratitude for the 30-year-old athlete, who helped start a movement when he took a knee during the national anthem throughout the 2016-17 NFL season, to protest racial inequality and police violence against African Americans.
Kaeernick’s form of silent protest angered President Donald Trump, who accused him of disrespecting the American flag.
“Thank you for your selfless heart and your conviction. Thank you for your personal sacrifice,” Beyoncé, 36, told Kaepernick from the stage. “Colin took action with no fear of consequences or repercussion — only to change the world for the better. The change perception. To change the way we treat each other — especially people of color. We’re still waiting for the world to catch up.”
“It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America,” continued the mother of three. “So let’s be very clear: Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selflessly serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social injustice for historically disenfranchised people.”
A beaming Kaepernick said he was “beyond humbled” to be introduced by Beyoncé and to be receiving the prestigious award.
“I say this fully aware of the importance of the virtues of modesty, humility and forbearance as to their chosen spiritual path,” he began. “I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racial injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America, as if these issues were born when I first began silently protesting police killing unarmed black and brown people. I stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Kaepernick is now a free agent after he went unsigned during the current NFL season.