Update: On Wednesday, Harvard University, through a spokesman, said Colin Kaepernick’s remarks at the Thursday ceremony would be on the record.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s appearance at a Harvard ceremony honoring contributions to black culture and history this week comes with a request: he is asking the press not to report on his remarks, according to a spokesman for the university.
Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research will honor Kaepernick, along with seven other recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, on Thursday in Memorial Hall in Cambridge.
The medal is Harvard’s “highest honor in the field of African and African American studies,” according to the school’s web site, and is awarded to people in “recognition of their contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind.”
Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, created a firestorm when he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality, racial inequality, and social injustice. The gesture touched off a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago.
Kaepernick is not currently signed to an NFL team, and he’s argued that NFL owners have colluded to keep him off a roster since he hit free agency in 2017.
Most recently, Nike renegotiated a deal with Kaepernick to make him one of the faces of the company’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Last month, the company unveiled its first ad narrated by Kaepernick in which he says, ‘‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.’’
Harvard spokesman Aaron M. Goldman confirmed in an e-mail Tuesday night that Kaepernick did request for his remarks at Thursday’s event to be off-the-record. Remarks from other recipients, who will include comedian Dave Chappelle and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, will be on-the-record, as will “all other aspects of the event,” said Goldman.