Rihanna is now a member of a very elite group of winners -- including Muhammad Ali, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Williams sisters -- after being honored with the President's Award during Saturday's 51st NAACP Image Awards.
"I'm going to try to keep this simple, because tonight really isn't about me," Rihanna said onstage. "Because the purpose is bigger than me... My part is a very small part of the work that's being done in this world -- and the work that's yet to be done."
In reflecting on her history of philanthropy, she continued, "If there's anything that I've learned, we can only fix this world together. We can't do it divided. I cannot emphasize that enough. We cannot let the de-sensitivity seep in. The, 'If it's your problem, it's not mine'... When we're marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.'s and the Atatiana Jefferson's of the world, tell your friends to pull up."
"We have been denied opportunities since the beginning of time, and still we prevail," Rihanna concluded. "Imagine what we could do together."
The global music and fashion icon, business entrepreneur, and philanthropist was given the special recognition for her achievement and work in public service. Rihanna has used her platform to further philanthropic efforts close to her heart, including the launch of the Clara Lionel Foundation in honor of her grandparents, and being an outspoken advocate for young people around the world.
"Rihanna has not only enjoyed a groundbreaking career as an artist and musician, but has also distinguished herself as a stellar public servant," said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. "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."
First handed out in 1987, the President’s Award has gone to everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Kerry Washington, and from Condoleezza Rice to Spike Lee.