Colin Kaepernick Reminds Black Corporate Executives That Freedom Comes at a Cost

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2021  — Early this week, athlete and social justice advocate, Colin Kaepernick, accepted The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) Global Game Changer Award at the organization’s Annual Recognition Gala and 35th Anniversary Celebration. Prompted by the event’s theme “Celebrating Our Impact and Inspiring Our Future,” Kaepernick praised The ELC’s history and called on Black corporate executives to build futures through collective efforts that do not replicate the very ideas and structures that need to be uprooted to achieve racial and economic equality.

Kaepernick urged high ranking Black corporate executives to work collectively to achieve racial and economic equality.Tweet this

“As you commemorate your 35 years of community impact and educational outreach, know, too, that I celebrate your accomplishments and recognize the importance of the work you have done in supporting global Black leaders who support our communities without apology or exception,” Kaepernick said. During the annual gala, Kaepernick underscored the critical need for personal sacrifice and disruption in order to effectively change the status quo and change the narrative for future generations.

President and CEO of The ELC Michael C. Hyter echoed Kaepernick’s message, acknowledging that as The ELC’s leader, his vision for the organization and its members includes commitment to the mission of bringing about change from the inside out. He believes that the only way forward is to challenge the policies and behaviors that have kept progress stagnant over the course of time.

“As some of the most powerful Black leaders in this economy, we have a responsibility to advocate for our rightful place in corporate boardrooms; not just for ourselves, but for the next generation. As recent historic events have illustrated, the Black community has cultivated some of the most influential women and men on the planet. We owe it to them, to our economy, and to those coming behind us,” Hyter said.

Johnson & Johnson served as the Lead Sponsor of the 2021 Gala.

The theme of collective responsibility and taking timely action reverberated throughout the night from the event’s other honorees and speakers. In addition to Kaepernick, The ELC recognized contemporary Black trailblazers throughout the night, including filmmaker, director, playwright and movie exec Tyler Perry as well as Achievement Award recipients Rosalind Brewer and Thasunda Brown Duckett, who were honored for becoming the second and third ever Black women Fortune 500 CEOs, respectively. The Achievement Award was presented by Ursula Burns, the first Black woman CEO in the history of the Fortune 500.

Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan accepted the Corporate Award on behalf of his organization.

The ELC Global Game Changer Award is presented to an individual whose achievements transcend traditional roles for Black Americans, women and other underrepresented people and who represent a new, dynamic vision of how Black leaders globally can impact their communities through political, economic, educational, and philanthropic empowerment and stewardship.

The ELC thanks the 2021 Gala Sponsors: Lead Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson; Signature Sponsors, Bank of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, IBM and UPS; and Supporting Sponsors, AIG, Cisco, Nike and Walmart.