Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, which was broadcast live on BET, and introduced to the stage by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the organization founded in 1909.
Read Rihanna’s comments in full below:
Thank you. And thank you to the staff, board and community of the NAACP, including all of you guys here in this room and everyone at home watching who’s devoted their lives and efforts toward supporting people of color.
OK, I’m going to try to keep this simple because tonight is not really about me because the purpose is bigger than me, right? It’s not bigger than us together, but it’s bigger than me because my part is a very small part of the work that’s being done in this world and the work that has yet to be done.
I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012. And if there’s any thing that I’ve learned is that we can only fix this world together. 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.”
I mean, how many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands.
Well, 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 juniors and Atatiana Jeffersons of the World, tell your friends to pull up.
Thank you to the NAACP for all of your efforts to ensure equality for our communities.
Thank you for celebrating our strength and tenacity. We’ve been denied opportunities since the beginning of time. Still, we prevail. so I’m honored. Imagine what we can do together. Thank you for this honor.
Watch Lizzo’s backstage speech at the NAACP Image Awards: