Megan Rapinoe celebrated former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his activism, drawing attention to police brutality and systemic racism, while accepting her award as one of Glamour’s Women of the Year.
“I feel like I have to take this opportunity to thank the person for whom I don’t feel like I would be here without,” she said of Kaepernick.
Rapinoe, who led the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to World Cup victory this year and is 2019’s Best FIFA Woman’s Player, went on to praise his “courage and bravery,” calling him “so bright and so bold,” filled with conviction and unafraid to back down from anyone.
“So while I’m enjoying all of this unprecedented, and frankly, a little bit uncomfortable attention and personal success in large part due to my activism off the field, Colin Kaepernick is still effectively banned,” she noted.
The former San Francisco 49er, who began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem during the 2016 season and is still attempting to get back into the league after opting out of his contract in 2017 to become a free agent, with the team looking to cut him. Rapinoe has showed solidarity with Kaepernick in the past by also silently protesting the national anthem.
She gained further national attention, with its attendant mix of praise and scorn, for declaring she had no intention of celebrating a World Cup victory with President Donald Trump at the White House.
The soccer star and activist also took the opportunity during her speech to thank her mother, who was in attendance, saying she impressed upon her the importance of being a good person and standing up for herself and others beginning at a young age. Additionally, she pointed to “Tarana Burke and the Me Too movement, [Patrisse] Cullors, [Alicia] Garza and [Opal] Tometi, Black Lives Matter, the women of Time’s Up, Harvey Milk, Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and the injustices that so many others face that put me in this very position.”
“We have such an incredible opportunity to redefine what power and influence and success looks like, and from the looks of it, it looks like this room full of very powerful, and influential and successful people,” she said to those in attendance. “So share that platform. Throw your ladders down because it’s our time. We’re ready for this and it needs to happen.”