CAMBRIDGE (CBS/AP) — Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and comedian Dave Chappelle were among eight people saluted by Harvard University for their contributions to black history and culture.

All eight recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal were honored Thursday afternoon by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard.

Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, created a firestorm when he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and social injustice.

chapelle Colin Kaepernick, Dave Chappelle Receive Harvard Black Culture Awards

Dave Chappelle and Colin Kaepernick recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal (WBZ-TV)

The audience waited all night for a few words from Kaepernick, reiterating the message of his protest, telling the crowd, “Love is at the root of our resistance, and it will continue to be, and it will fortify everything that we do.”

The former NFL quarterback has been criticized by thousands of Americans and President Trump, but at the ceremony, his fellow honorees and the crowd hailed Kaepernick a hero for the black community.

Kaepernick recently became the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign – featuring the slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

In his remarks Thursday, he told the crowd, “If we all believe in something, we won’t have to sacrifice everything.”

His message inspired students who sat in the audience. “Being here tonight made me realize that I will make a difference in the world,” said Boston Latin School student Lindsay Dieudonne.

ck Colin Kaepernick, Dave Chappelle Receive Harvard Black Culture Awards

Colin Kaepernick at Harvard University (WBZ-TV)

The media was not allowed to record Kaepernick’s speech because of his ongoing lawsuit with the NFL. He was recognized for donating and raising over a million dollars for various organizations and charities.

The other honorees were Kenneth Chenault, chairman and a managing director of General Catalyst; Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Pamela Joyner, founder of Avid Partners, LLC; psychologist and author Florence Ladd; Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and artist Kehinde Wiley.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)