The singer was celebrated for her career in music and fashion, and her philanthropy, including her Clara Lionel Foundation, which aims to support and fund “education, health and emergency response programs around the world.”
“If there’s anything that I’ve learned [it’s] that we can only fix this world together,” Rihanna said in her acceptance speech.
She spoke about the importance of allyship, asking audience members to raise their hands if they have “colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions.”
“They want to break bread with you, right?” she asked. “They like you? Well, then, this is their problem too.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson presented the award to the singer and fashion and beauty mogul at the ceremony in Pasadena, California. The President’s Award recognizes “a special achievement and distinguished public service,” according to the NAACP.
Johnson celebrated Rihanna’s accomplishments in a statement released earlier this month.
“Rihanna has not only enjoyed a groundbreaking career as an artist and musician, but has also distinguished herself as a stellar public servant,” he said. “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.”
Rihanna posted on Twitter earlier this month that she was “super honored” to be named this year’s recipient of the award.
“Thank you!!!!” she wrote.
Rapper and music mogul Jay-Z received the President’s Award at last year’s ceremony, where he was recognized for “shedding light on the issues that plague the Black community.”
Earlier in the night, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Award. He accepted the honor in a pre-recorded video that played at the ceremony.