Taking the stage to accept the award, presented to him by NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Jay was sharply dressed in a black double-breasted suit. The hip-hop mogul began his speech by quoting Abraham Lincoln, "It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years." He then dedicated his award to his 93-year-old grandmother, Hattie White, who is "so full of life. Hattie White, amongst other accomplishments and being super great and very tough, raised seven kids in one little walk up."
Explaining that they all grew up in that same household, the rapper shared his grandmother's story and praised her for living her life to the fullest.
"I grew believing I could do anything. That I could accomplish anything because of those strong women in my house," he expressed, also mentioning his mother, Gloria Carter. "I would like to dedicate this award to those beautiful women. I'd like to dedicate this award to beautiful women in my life, it's Beyonce."
"Just because of the white suit," he nervously added, as Beyonce smiled at her husband from her seat.
The President’s Award is presented in recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service. JAY joins previous recipients Jesse Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Soledad O’Brien, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Muhammad Ali, among others.
"Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I've ever lived," Beyonce said as her voice cracked with emotion and her husband placed his hand supportively on her arm. "I'm hopeful that his struggled served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQI rights are human rights."
"To choose who you love is your human right. How you identify and see yourself is your human right. Who you make love to and take that ass to Red Lobster is your human right," she added, to a roaring cheer from the crowd.