On Saturday (February 22), the 32-year-old business mogul and legendary entertainer received the President's Award for her philanthropic efforts, including raising millions of dollars for disaster relief, education and awareness for issues affecting communities all over the world. However, instead of acknowledging her own philanthropic work, Rih took the moment to call for unity across "races, sexes, and religions" so that we may tackle global issues together.
"Tonight is not really about me, because the purpose is bigger than me, right?" she began. "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 is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done."
"I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012," she continued, referring to the nonprofit organization she launched in her late grandmother's memory. "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 desensitivity seep in — the ‘If it’s your problem, it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’"
She went on to ask the audience, "How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands? Well then, you know 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 concluded her speech with a powerful message, saying, "Imagine what we could do together."
See Rihanna's full speech below.
Photo: Getty Images