Beyonce awarded Colin Kaepernick with Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award on Tuesday night, which celebrates athletes who use their platform to bring about social change.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback said in his acceptance speech, “with or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people.”
“I accept this award knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people,” said Kaepernick, who has also been shortlisted for TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year. “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.”
Beyonce said she was “proud and humbled” to present the award to Kaepernick, who was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem before the games, in protest against oppression of people of color. He is currently unsigned, and has filed a grievance form against the NFL alleging they are colluding against him as a result of his protests.
“Thank you Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart, and your conviction,” Beyonce said, according to Variety. “Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color.”
Sports Illustrated is owned by Time Inc., TIME’s parent company.