He said it while accepting Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has sued the NFL’s owners for allegedly colluding to keep him out of the league, believing that league owners refused to hire him after his controversial on-field protests against racial inequality and police brutality. But while he sits on the sideline, he might consider a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
For proof, Kaepernick could look no further than the life of boxer Muhammad Ali.
When Ali died in 2016, he was remembered not only as the greatest boxer who ever lived but a champion of civil rights and a man who stood firmly against the Vietnam War. But it’s often forgotten that, in his day, Ali was reviled by many. According to columnist Terry Foster:
“[Ali] did not become loved by America until later in his career and for some after his career was finished. You must understand that for a black man to take stands against the government and against the majority of society were acts of bravery for some and acts of treason for others.”
On Dec. 5, 2017, Sports Illustrated strengthened the historical bond between Ali and Kaepernick by giving him the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at the magazine’s annual Sportsperson of the Year Awards. The award was presented to Kaepernick by Beyoncé, whose surprise appearance shocked the crowd at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
“Thank you Colin Kaepernick,” Beyoncé said. “Thank you for your selfless heart and your conviction. Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better.”
Look how Colin Kaepernick lookin at Beyonce tho! pic.twitter.com/dCPR0ddvqs— BeyonceFukdMe (@BeyonceFukdMe) December 6, 2017\n
“I accept this award knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people,” Kaepernick said in his speech. “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.”
Kaepernick pledged to continue fighting against injustice regardless of what happens with his football career. “With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people,” he said. Despite not receiving any pay from the NFL this year, Kaepernick is donating $1 million to community organizations that work to raise awareness about inequality.