Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick receives Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award.

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

Colin Kaepernick

Take a Knee

During the 2016 pre-season of the American National Football League, Colin Kaepernick knelt during the US national anthem, as a respectful way of calling for the country to protect and uphold the rights of all its people. The bold move was a response to the disproportionate numbers of black people being killed by police. It sparked a movement that follows a long tradition of non-violent protests that have made history.

While the polarised response to the “take-a-knee” protest has ignited a debate about the right to protest and free speech, Colin Kaepernick has remained focused on highlighting the injustices that moved him to act. His charity, the Colin Kaepernick Foundation, works to fight oppression around the world through education and social activism, including through free “Know Your Rights” camps which educate and empower young people.

“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,” said Colin Kaepernick. “While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people.”

Eric Reid, professional American football player and Colin Kaepernick’s former teammate, continued to show his support, as he presented Colin Kaepernick with the Ambassador of Conscience award.

The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, recognizing individuals who have promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their lives and by example.

Take a Knee protests around the US

As the national anthem was played prior to Super Bowl 50, Teddy Williams of the Carolina Panthers took a knee on the sideline.
Raianna Brown, a cheerleader at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia, joined the National Football League protest by taking a knee during the national anthem, calling it one of her “proudest & scariest moment as a yellow-jacket.”
Stevie Wonder and his son Kwame Morris kneel on stage at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park in New York City.
Megan Rapinoe, a player on the US women’s national soccer team, joined the protest and took a knee during the national anthem before a match versus the Netherlands.
Singer-songwriter John Legend showed his support for the Take a Knee protests during his performance at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park New York City.
Bruce Maxwell, catcher for the Oakland Athletics, was the first player of a Major League Baseball team to join Colin Kaepernick by taking a knee during the National Anthem.
Colin Kapernick’s teammates at the San Francisco 49ers kneel for the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Ambassador of Conscience Award celebrates individuals and groups who have furthered the cause of human rights through acts of conscience, confronting injustice and using their talents to inspire others.

Through the award, Amnesty International aims to raise awareness of inspirational stories and human rights issues and encourage public action.

Past winners have confronted injustice through acts of conscience, used their talents to inspire others and furthered the cause of human rights

The Award was inspired by the poem From the Republic of Conscience, written for Amnesty International by the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Past winners include renowned musicians and artists like Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Alicia Keys and Ai Weiwei, and inspirational figures including Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

Act on your conscience: join our movement today

We live in a time where governments and corporations are vilifying, jailing and even killing people – simply for standing up for what they believe in.

But staying true to your conscience means refusing to give up, coming together to fight for a fairer world for all.

Whether it’s by speaking out for those who risk their lives to defend women’s or LGBTI rights, supporting young people courageously taking action to change the world, or standing with others that need us: we’d love to stay in touch about what we can do together.

Add your voice here today and help fight back against hate.

Anyone can be a Human Rights Defender – act on your conscience now.

What makes an Ambassador of Conscience?

In addition to their careers as musicians, artists and public figures, Ambassador of Conscience Award winners are proven activists who have used their talents to inspire millions of people to join them in defending the human rights of people all over the world.