CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Controversial quarterback turned civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick took the stage at Harvard Thursday night, one of eight people to accept the university’s black culture award.

In a fiery introduction during the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal Ceremony, Professor Cornel West praised Kaepernick for giving up a lucrative sports career in exchange for fighting social injustices.

“He first sat down, then he kneeled down in order to stand up, and he stood up for justice,” West said. “He stood up for freedom. He stood up for righteousness.”

Kaepernick addressed the crowd, saying in part: “Love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything that we do.”

Recently, Nike launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign with the former 49ers quarterback.

During his speech, Kaepernick said: “As I reflected on that, it made me think of if we all believe in something, we won’t have to sacrifice everything.”

He also shared some laughs with comedian Dave Chappelle and the other scientists, artists, and teachers honored for their contributions to the black community.

“I’m very honored to be here and honored to be here with the other honorees,” Chappelle said. “Really I am very humbled by you all, the work that you do and you all make me want to be better. All of you.”

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