Beyoncé surprised ex-49ers player Colin Kaepernick Tuesday night, presenting him with the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which honors an athlete who uses their platform to further change.
Beyoncé took a strong stance on Kaepernick’s actions to protest police brutality at the 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Awards Show in New York. Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated while the national anthem played back in 2016 sparked similar protests by NFL players that continue to incite controversy in the present.
“Thank you Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart, and your conviction,” the “Lemonade” singer said in her presentation speech. “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. To 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 are protesting America. 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. Let’s not get that mistaken.”
In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick said that his “platform is the people.”
“I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America,” he said. “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. With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.”
Kaepernick has been unable to find a new NFL team since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers at the end of the 2016 season, and sued the NFL and its owners in October for allegedly colluding against hiring him. Kaepernick also received the ACLU’s courageous advocate award Monday evening.
The 2017 SI Sportsperson of the Year Show will air on NBCSN and on Univision Deportes Network at 8 p.m. ET Friday and Saturday, respectively.