‘This stand wasn't because I feel like I'm being put down in any kind of way. This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice: people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that, and I'm going to do that for people that can't.’
Colin Kaepernick

The NFL athlete and inspirational activist Colin Kaepernick has been presented with our Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018.

Colin was the first African American NFL star to ‘take a knee’ during the national anthem at football games to protest police brutality against black people in the USA.

This defiant and courageous act sparked a nationwide movement and ignited a debate about the right to protest and free speech. Hundreds more sports stars across the USA have since taken the knee, linked arms and showed solidarity with the cause, forcing this important issue into the mainstream.

Our organisation’s highest honour

The Ambassador of Conscience award is our organisation’s highest honour, recognising those who’ve dedicated their lives to promoting human rights. Past winners include artists like Alicia Keys and Ai Weiwei, as well as political figures like Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

Colin was presented the award at a ceremony in the Netherlands on 21 April 2018 by his former teammate Eric Reid – the first to join him in taking a knee. Upon receiving the award, Colin said:

‘I would like to thank Amnesty International for the Ambassador of Conscience Award. But in truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force.

‘To quote Malcolm X, when he said that he, “will join in with anyone – I don’t care what colour you are – as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth,” I am here to join with you all in this battle against police violence.’

Exceptional courage

Colin was presented with our award because of the exceptional courage he has shown by refusing to ignore or accept the sad truth of racism in America.

Upon announcing the award Salil Shetty, our Secretary General, said:

‘Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Colin Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power.’

We look forward to seeing how Colin and his charity the Colin Kaepernick Foundation work towards fighting oppression in America and across the world.