Washington, D.C. - Former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a human and civil rights award from a national teachers union.
The National Education Association gave Kaepernick the NEA’s President’s Award in recognition of his work “to fight racial oppression through education and social justice activism” through the Know Your Rights camp, according to Fox News.
Kaepernick funds the camp.
"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 July 1, according to Fox News.
"Through their deeds and actions, they have demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice," Eskelsen 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."
The NEA’s press release stated about the quarterback, “A social justice activist and human and civil rights leader of his own time, Colin Kaepernick's lone action sparked a movement.”
“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," said Kaepernick, according to the NEA press release. The NEA added that Kaepernick was asked about “the number of unarmed people of color, Black men and women specifically, that have been victims of police brutality and killed by law enforcement.”
Kaepernick began anti-police protests of the National Anthem and American Flag in 2016 when he took a knee during the national anthem during a pre-season game.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color," Kaepernick said at the time.
Kaepernick had a 3-16 record in his last two seasons as a starting quarterback. After the 2016 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. However, no NFL team signed him in 2017. He filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners alleging they colluded not to sign him. That lawsuit is still ongoing.
Yahoo Sports reported that the NFL is trying to have Kaepernick’s collusion case come to a close. The NFL has cited the players’ collective bargaining agreement and has asked arbitrator Stephen Burbank to provide a summary judgement in the case, in effect closing it, according to Yahoo Sports.
Former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis said that that Ravens were about to sign Kaepernick in 2017, but then Kaepernick’s girlfriend posted a racist tweet of Lewis and Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti, according to ESPN.
Nessa Diab’s tweet compared Lewis and Bisciotti to a scene from the movie Django Unchained in which Samuel Jackson was a loyal house slave to the a cruel plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Other organizations have honored Kaepernick. He was named GQ magazine’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2017. Then in April 2018, Amnesty International awarded him the Ambassador of Conscience Award.
Kaepernick has a history of demeaning police. He was photographed in a 2016 practice wearing socks with pigs wearing police hats. He also compared modern police to slave patrols of the 1800s.