BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Former NFL quarterback and social justice advocate Colin Kaepernick is getting an honorary degree from Morgan State University, joining filmmaker David E. Talbert and businessman David Burton, both Morgan State alums, the university said Tuesday.
All three recipients are being honored for their "individual, and collective, contributions to the progression of the Black narrative and pursuit of excellence," Morgan State University President David K. Wilson said.
A member of the San Francisco 49ers for six years, Kaepernick famously started protesting the oppression of Black people and minorities in 2016, first by sitting during the national anthem before NFL games then by kneeling during the song.
"For his stance, he has been denied the opportunity to regain his employment within the NFL to this day," Morgan State said. Last month Kaepernick reportedly said he would be fine with returning to pro football as a backup.
While away from the NFL, Kaepernick has founded three organizations advancing "the liberation of Black and Brown people," Know Your Rights Camp, Ra Vision Media and Kaepernick Publishing.
The 34-year-old has also received a slew of awards, been the subject of the Netflix drama series "Colin in Black & White," and published a children's picture book, "I Color Myself Different."
He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Talbert, a member of the Class of 1989, has dozens of writing credits, including novels, plays and films. Most recently he wrote and directed the musical fantasy film "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey," starring Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills and Keegan-Michael Key. The movie was nominated for 10 NAACP Image Awards in 2021.
"This 20-year passion project and brainchild of Talbert bore a completely original and inclusive cinematic holiday experience that was viewed in more than 190 countries and translated into 32 languages," the university said.
Talbert will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
Burton, a member of the Class of 1967, is the founder and CEO of the Diverse Manufacturing Supply Chain Alliance.
The university praised Burton's role as a key figure in a lawsuit brought by Maryland's four Black colleges and universities arguing the state had underfunded the institutions for years.
Last March, a federal judge approved a $577 million settlement for the schools, with $22 million earmarked for the legal costs the plaintiffs spent over the 15-year legal fight. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh finalized the settlement a month later.
Burton will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
"He has a vast amount of experience in community and economic development, small business incubation and inner-city revitalization which he has utilized for the betterment of his community," the university said.
Morgan State's commencement ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Hughes Memorial Stadium. It's not immediately clear if all the honorary degree recipients will be in attendance.
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