ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall will be honored by Harvard’s Graduate School for his stance on social injustice.
Harvard said they chose Marshall because of “his role in elevating issues of social justice.”
During the national anthem before the start of several games in the 2016 NFL season, Marshall took a knee to protest the social injustices he saw in America.
Some criticized Marshall, including Justice Ginsburg, who called the anthem protests “dumb and disrespectful,” as well as other athletes who held similar protests, and the timing he chose.
“I feel like this is the right platform,” Marshall said in response. “This is our only platform to really be heard. And I feel a lot of times people want us to just shut up and entertain them, shut up and play football. But we have voices as well. We’re actually educated individuals that went to college. So when we have an opinion and we speak it, I feel a lot of people bash us for what we have to say.”
“After receiving criticism for kneeling during the National Anthem in solidarity with innocent lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, Marshall has worked to lead efforts in Denver to increase collaboration and community engagement with the Denver Police Department,” Harvard said in their announcement.
Denver police chief Robert White did meet with Marshall, who later participated in a police shooting simulator as well as meeting with fathers in the correctional system to better understand what police experience and to make a difference in the community.
“He said ‘Hey, I’m going to volunteer some time, I’m going to volunteer some money. And he’s done just that,” Chief White said.
Marshall made a donation to charity for every tackle he made this season.
“In the last week, I’ve had a lot of productive conversations with people I respect, including Chief (Robert) White of the Denver Police Department,” Marshall posted on his Instagram page in September. “I really appreciate all of them taking the time to listen to me and offer some insight and feedback on ways we can all make a difference.”
Because of his stance, which some viewed as anti-police and anti-military, Marshall lost several endorsement deals.
“But Marshall remained firm in his decision despite the challenges, focusing instead on the potential impact of his work,” Harvard said. “In addition to his work with reform efforts in Denver, Brandon also remained active championing the rights of women and is an advocate for survivors of domestic violence.”
Later in the season, Marshall returned to standing during the anthem.
“Not because everything is perfect, or because I’m changing my stance on things,” Marshall posted to Instagram. “But because of my hope for what we can become.”
Marshall tweeted, saying he is “honored to be recognized” by Harvard.
Marshall will formally receive the award during an event on March 3 titled “Defy. Define. Dismantle. Forging Our Legacy Through Activism.”