Rihanna is never one to hold her tongue on important issues. On Saturday, during the 51st NAACP Awards held at the Pasadena Convention Center in California, the Fenty beauty mogul, clad in a regal purple tulle ensemble, accepted the prestigious President’s Award for her philanthropic contributions
NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Rihanna received the award for her work as a “stellar public servant” in addition to her accomplished career as chart-topping artist. “From her business achievements through Fenty, to her tremendous record as an activist and philanthropist, Rihanna epitomizes the type of character, grace, and devotion to justice that we seek to highlight in our President’s Award,” he said.
“I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012,” Rihanna said during her speech about the nonprofit organization she founded in honor of her grandparents. The organization helps fund education and emergency response programs.
“We can’t do it divided. I cannot emphasize that enough. We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The, ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine; it’s a woman’s problem; it’s a black people problem; it’s a poor people problem,’” said Rihanna, who was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017.
During her acceptance speech, she made a call to action for allies, pushing them to champion so-called black issues. “Well then, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem, too. So when we’re marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.s and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up,” she said to thunderous applause.
Rihanna also thanked the NAACP for celebrating the “strength and tenacity” of people of color who have been “denied opportunities since the beginning of time” and telling viewers to “imagine what we could do together.”
Watch the full acceptance speech here.