(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was among the eight distinguished people honored by Harvard with the esteemed W.E.B. Du Bois Medal during the Hutchins Center Honors by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Kaepernick was honored for his work and contributions toward racial injustice and police brutality. He was honored along with eight others including Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and a managing director of General Catalyst; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson; philanthropist and founder of Avid Partners, LLC, Pamela J. Joyner; psychologist and author Florence C. LaddBryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and artist Kehinde Wileywho so famously illustrated Presidential portrait of Barack Obama.

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“Thank you, Harvard University, for honoring me tonight with the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal,” Kaepernick tweeted on Friday. “I’m grateful for this recognition and to be amongst the other highly esteemed honorees that inspire me.”

The Du Bois medalists are chosen because they’ve made significant contributions to African and African-American history and culture, according to the group’s website.

“In the year of the 150th anniversary of his birth, W.E.B. Du Bois would be proud of the eight individuals being recognized at this year’s Hutchins Center Honors,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center.

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“Emerging from a variety of backgrounds and professions, each represents the quest for knowledge, freedom of expression, and pursuit of truth that are foundational to Black history and culture, and that were foundational to Du Bois as a thinker and activist.”

While Harvard said Kaepernick’s speech couldn’t be recorded because of his on-going litigation, AOL reports that Kaepernick shared why he decided to take a  knee on the field.

“I feel like it’s not only my responsibility, but all our responsibilities as people that are in positions of privilege, in positions of power, to continue to fight for them and uplift them, empower them,” Kaepernick said. “Because if we don’t, we become complicit in the problem. It is our duty to fight for them, and we are going to continue to fight for them.”

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He added: “I go back to something I said in a speech previously that love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything we do.”