Kaepernick took to the stage for the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award at the ACLU Southern California's annual Bill of Rights Dinner. On Monday, Kaepernick was named as one of the 10 candidates for Time's Person of the Year.
He made his rare public appearance Sunday in Beverly Hills. The 30-year-old spoke about social justice.
"Let me start by saying thank all of you," Kaepernick said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That's amazing. That's trulls amazing. Thank you, Hector Villagra and the ACLU for this honor, for the unrelenting and unwavering work by the ACLU, to fight for social justice."
Kaepernick, 30, has not played in the NFL since last season. He became a free agent after opting out of the final year of his contract with the 49ers.
The quarterback began protesting last season by kneeling during the national anthem before games in opposition to police brutality and racial inequality. His stance has since been adopted by numerous athletes around the league. On Sunday, several players continued to kneel, despite the NFL proposing a $100 million donation to social justice causes.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league in October, accusing NFL owners of collusion.
"We must confront systemic oppression as a doctor would a disease. You identify it, you call it out, you treat it and you defeat it," Kaepernick said.
"We all have an obligation no matter the risk, and regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men and women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be compromised."
"In the words of Frederick Douglass: 'If there is no struggle, there is no progress.' Thank you."
Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million and the proceeds from his jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities. He planned to donate $100,000 monthly, for 10 months.
In September, Kaepernick was named Week 1 NFLPA Community MVP by the NFL's Player's Association.
Time's award will be presented at 7 a.m. Wednesday on Today and on Time.com.