Colin Kaepernick was presented with Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award by Beyonce on Tuesday night.
Kaepernick promised that "with or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people."
Last year's Ali Award winner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, called Kaepernick a "worthy recipient" during a video tribute.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last season to protest racial inequality and police brutality. The demonstration sparked a wave of protests by NFL players during the anthem that repeatedly have been denounced by Donald Trump.