Kaepernick thanked Beyonce while accepting the award, explaining that he was "beyond humbled" to be introduced by the singer, and to be receiving the award, Essence reports.
"I say this fully aware of the importance of the virtues of modesty, humility and forbearance as to their chosen spiritual path. I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racial injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America, as if these issues were born when I first began silently protesting police killing unarmed black and brown people. I stand on the shoulders of giants."
Kaepernick's form of silent but powerful protest lead to a great deal of criticism and support, with some accusing him of insulting the flag and the members of the armed services, while others lauded the gesture for its message and profound impact.
Kaepernick, now a free agent, went unsigned during the current NFL season. However, many other players were inspired by his actions and began taking a knee during the anthem to protest the current political climate. The gestures have earned the ire of some NFL fans, as well as President Donald Trump, who has lashed out at players who take a knee during the anthem earlier this year.