CINCINNATI (WKRC) – NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick has been named the second most influential African American by online magazine The Root.
The Root publishes an annual list called "The Root 100" of the top 100 most influential Black people aged 25 to 45 who they say have made strides and helped uplift the Black community.
"Kaepernick was right—about voicing his outrage, disrupting America's comfortable racism and kneeling in order to stand up for Black Americans—and he's got a pipeline of expansive projects to keep pushing his agenda," The Root wrote.
Kaepernick rose to national attention when he kneeled for the national anthem during an NFL match to protest the wave of police brutality against black people, and his cause quickly spread throughout professional sports in particular.
"Pro sports didn't just develop a conscience out of the ether this year," The Root wrote. "Kap woke them up. Since he first refused to stand for the national anthem in 2016, Colin Kaepernick has prevented America from allowing football to be the country's favorite escapism from racial injustice, even at the expense of his on-field career. After the death of George Floyd, nearly every major sports league has seen its athletes protest or take a knee during the national anthem in support of racial justice."
Since then, his non-profit organization, "Know Your Rights Camp", has raised $1 million to fund the release of incarcerated minorities who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and can't afford to pay bail.
The donation was matched by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, which awarded Kaepernick the Human Rights Ripple of Hope laureate honor, an award that has also been received by former president Barack Obama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
"Our country is yearning for leadership, for moral fortitude, for common decency and kindness, and this year's Ripple of Hope laureates give us great hope for the future," said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
Ranking number one on The Root 100 for 2020 was New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. She won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and her work, "The 1619 Project", has been used as curriculum to teach Black history in more than 4,500 classrooms in the United States.
Kaepernick has earned multiple other honors for his work, such as the 2018 Harvard University W. E. B. Du Bois Medal, 2018 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award and 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.