The Duke and Duchess of Sussex received the distinguished President’s Award at the show, which is meant to honor “special achievement and distinguished public service.” Past honorees include Jesse Jackson, Jay-Z, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Rihanna, Muhammad Ali and LeBron James.
During the speech, Harry noted that he and Meghan had a shared “commitment to a life of service.”
“I think it’s safe to say that I come from a very different background than my incredible wife, yet our lives were brought together for a reason,” he said.
“And I couldn’t be prouder that we’re doing this work together,” Meghan later chimed in, before mentioning the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. “We moved to California, my home state, shortly before the murder of George Floyd. And for Black America, those 9 minutes and 29 seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of our unhealed wounds.”
“In the months that followed, as my husband and I spoke with the civil rights community, we committed ourselves and our organization, Archewell, to illuminating those who were advancing racial justice and progress,” the Duchess of Sussex continued.
She later called the NAACP award an “incredible honor.”
The royals, who founded their Archewell Foundation shortly after stepping back as working members of the royal family, were also on hand to present the first-ever NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award, which their foundation helps fund.
The inaugural recipient of the award is Safiya Noble, an internet studies scholar and professor of gender studies and African American studies at UCLA. Noble’s UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry began a partnership with Archewell in December 2020, and Noble spoke with the couple for a Times100 Talk in October 2020.
“It’s a true honor to be recognized by President Derrick Johnson and the NAACP, whose efforts to propel racial justice and civil rights are as vital today as they were nearly 115 years ago,” Meghan and Harry said in a joint statement on Thursday, when their honor was first announced.
Shortly after the news became public that the couple was attending the NAACP Image Awards, the royals also released a statement regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and all of us at Archewell stand with the people of Ukraine against this breach of international and humanitarian law and encourage the global community and its leaders to do the same,” read a statement on their website.
Harry also addressed Russia’s ongoing invasion of neighboring Ukraine during their appearance at the NAACP Image Awards ceremony on Saturday.
“Before I begin, we’d like to acknowledge the people of Ukraine who urgently need our continued support as a global community,” he said.
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