Rihanna received the President’s Award for her philanthropy work at the NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California. The star, who wore a purple Givenchy Haute Couture number for the event, was particularly honored for her fundraising efforts with various charities, including Raising Malawi, UNICEF, and Clara Lionel Foundation, the nonprofit organization she founded in honor of her grandparents devoted to emergency preparedness.
Thus far, Rihanna has reportedly raised millions of dollars for disaster relief and education abroad—efforts for which she was also named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017.
While accepting her award last night, Rihanna’s speech included a powerful message for the audience. “I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012. And if there’s any thing that I’ve learned it’s that we can only fix this world together,” Rihanna said. “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 continued, “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.”
Later in the evening, Lizzo was also named entertainer of the year, and she used her platform onstage to address unity as well. “I just want to shout out all the big black girls I bring onstage with me,” the singer said while accepting her accolade. “I do that because I want them to know they are the trophies. Since this is the final award of the night, I don’t even want to make it about me. Every last one of you: you are the award. We are so special. We are such a beautiful people. This is just a reminder of all the incredible things that we can do.”
Below, watch Rihanna’s full speech.