CALIFORNIA, United States – Barbadian superstar Rihanna made a call for unity in a powerful speech on Saturday, after accepting the prestigious President’s Award at the 51st NAACP Image Awards for her philanthropic efforts.
In a three-minute speech that earned her thunderous applause at Pasadena the Civic Centre Auditorium in California, the singer/ business mogul/actress/philanthropist – who, in 2012, founded the Clara Lionel Foundation, a non-profit organization named after her grandparents that funds ground-breaking education and emergency preparedness and response programmes worldwide – insisted that people needed to be united to fix the world’s problems.
Rihanna spoke of the importance of unifying communities and encouraged people of colour to tell friends of different races to “pull up”.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s 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’,” she said.
Posing a question and asking for a show of hands from the audience, the 32-year-old global music and fashion icon continued: “How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? 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 Jrs and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up,” she added, referring to an unarmed 18-year-old man who was fatally shot by a white policeman and a 28-year-old woman who was shot to death in her mother’s Dallas home by a police officer.
Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, the US’ oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization, said in a statement that Rihanna had received the award for not only her “ground-breaking career as an artist and musician”, but also for being a “stellar public servant”.
“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,” said Johnson who presented Rihanna with the award at a live show aired on BET.
Alongside her musical achievements which include nine Grammy awards, Rihanna has added more credits to her burgeoning resume: executive producer, fashion designer, actress, business entrepreneur and philanthropist.