Jay-Z praised some special people in his life while accepting the NAACP President’s Award.
The rapper was honored at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Saturday night with a special award. NAACP President Derrick Johnson described the purpose of the award in a statement on Thursday.
“The President’s Award is an honor we carefully bestow upon an individual, maintaining its significance and commitment to recognizing excellence in service that directly affects our community,” he said. “Shawn Carter has been committed to shedding light on the issues that plague the black community including systematic racism and unjust treatment under the law, utilizing his global platform to create everlasting change.”
Johnson added, “There is no better time than now, as we celebrate our 50th year, to honor him with this award.”
The organization’s president and CEO introduced Jay-Z before handing him the trophy and described him as someone who has “changed the very fabric of culture of America.”
After praising Jay-Z’s many accolades, including winning 22 Grammys and being a brilliant businessman, Johnson talked about why giving him this award was so timely and relevant.
“But for us at this critical time in our history he has become a driving force as a founding partner of the reform new initiative dedicated to changing the unfair and unjust laws for the millions of Americans currently on parole and probation,” he said.
Jay-Z started off his speech with a joke. He said he wanted to quote a “kind-hearted president” but paused for a moment. The audience laughed for a few moments and he said, “I was talking about Donald Glover“
But it turns out that he wasn’t actually quoting Glover, but the 16th President instead. “Abraham Lincoln had a quote that said, ‘It’s not the amount of years in your life, it’s the amount of life in your years that count in the end.'”
The 49-year-old said the quote “embodied my beautiful grandmother who I would like to dedicate this award to, Hattie White.”
“She is so full of life and she among other accomplishments, being super great and very tough, she raised seven kids, one little walk up in Brooklyn. 615 Lexington, started my life,” he said of his grandmother. “On top of that, her kids had kids and we all were raised in the same house. One household.”
His 93-year-old grandma is still kicking and he explained that he talked with her recently and completely changed his speech after doing so. Jay-Z told the audience that he asked how much money his grandma made and she told him “$20 a week. It was fine. You could do a lot with $20 in those days.” He mentioned his mom, Gloria Carter, and said, “ I grew up knowing that I could accomplish anything because of those strong women in my house. I would like to dedicate this award to those beautiful women. “
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation
No speech, however, would be complete without calling out his wife Beyoncé. “I’d like to dedicate this award to a beautiful woman in my life, Ms. Beyoncé.”
Queen Bey was wearing a stunning white pantsuit and he said he wanted to dedicate it to her “just because of the white suit.”
He finished off his speech, “Thank you to the NAACP for allowing me to forward this so she can put it on her mantle next to her favorite grandson. And then when she’s sneaking pork and her legs swell up, she can remember how much of a G she is.”
Jay and Bey have been the recipients of many prestigious awards lately, especially for ones that don’t even necessarily revolve around their music. They were honored with the Vanguard Award at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards on Thursday and the Lemonade artist gave a powerful and emotional speech at the show.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement earlier in the month, “Beyoncé and Jay-Z are global icons and passionate defenders of human rights and acceptance for all people. When Beyoncé and Jay-Z speak, the world becomes inspired and when it comes to LGBTQ people, their voices of acceptance have been heard loud and clear.”
Check out the full list of NAACP Image Award winners here.
Congratulations on the achievement, Jay-Z!