The Baltimore-based HBCU announced the news Tuesday — though Kaepernick won’t actually receive his honorary Ph.D. until the school’s 145th Spring Commencement ceremony, this Saturday.
“‘Leadership, Integrity, Innovation, Diversity, Excellence and Respect’ are more than just words that appear on the flags that adorn our campus, or words that we utter casually when reciting our core values. They represent the embodiment of who we are and what a Morgan graduate stands for,” David K. Wilson, president of MSU, noted.
“With this notion in mind, we intentionally sought a collection of individuals who truly embody these principles, and thankfully we have assembled a trio of diverse voices who have bravely stood — and knelt — for the betterment and advancement of the voiceless, the marginalized and the disenfranchised,” he added, clearly referring to Kaepernick memorably kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games.
Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016.
During his final season in the NFL, he began kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice, specifically police brutality. This swiftly resulted in Kaepernick becoming a polarizing public figure, as people were split between praising and condemning him.
Eventually, Kaepernick became a free agent and was unsigned. He ultimately filed a grievance against the NFL in late 2017, though he eventually reached a settlement with the organization.
After essentially being blackballed from the NFL, Kaepernick fully embraced his status as a social justice advocate. He has found numerous organizations devoted to combating systemic oppression, and he remains vocal on the issue.
MSU has decided to honor Kaepernick with an honorary degree for his efforts.
Kaepernick is far from the only big name who has been honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree this graduation season.
As Blavity previously reported, superstar actress Taraji P. Henson was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Howard University before delivering a moving commencement speech.
Additionally, Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel and supermodel Miranda Kerr, who are married, received an honorary degree from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Spiegel and Kerr also notably provided a massive donation to the art school, allowing each new graduate to repay their student loans.