Beyonce was looking thicker than a snicker while presenting Colin Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson Of The Year Awards on Tuesday night.
Kaepernick earned the honor after using his platform as an athlete to promote change — The currently sidelined quarterback took a stance by kneeling during the national anthem at various football games to draw attention to racial discrimination and police brutality.
His stance prompted many other players around the National Football League (NFL) to also join in the protest, resulting in people like President Donald Trump tweeting that the players’ decisions to take a knee showed a “lack of leadership” in the NFL.
Beyonce made a surprise appearance to present the former San Francisco 49ers player with the award and she also voiced her support: “Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better,” she stated. “To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color.”
Kaepernick praised his supporters as he accepted the award: “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.”
He also spoke about continuing Ali’s legacy of fighting social injustice, saying the boxing great “mentored me without ever meeting me.”
“The footprints he leaves are large,” Kaepernick said, “and his life is and has been a multitextured tapestry that is rich in love, wisdom, life lessons and human kindness. I can only hope that I’m taking steps toward walking on the footsteps that he has left behind for the world to follow.”
Last year’s Ali Legacy Award winner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, called Kaepernick a “worthy recipient” during a video tribute.
“He fully embraced the risk to his career in order to remind Americans of the systemic racism that was denying African-Americans their opportunities to equal education, jobs, health and even their lives,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
Kaepernick’s protest movement has been supported by millions of people, and hundreds of celebrities worldwide, including Beyonce’s husband JAY-Z.