Pharrell Williams is doing something extraordinary for a group of high school graduates at Harlem’s Children’s Zone Promise Academy.
On June 26, during the Manhattan, New York, school’s commencement ceremony, the veteran producer said he’ll give each of the 114 graduating seniors internships. It has also been reported that all of the seniors have already been accepted into college.
During his speech, Williams made a distinction between being “woke” and awake, then encouraged the students to be involved in making positive change.
“So let me be clear, every member of the 2019 graduating class is guaranteed an internship waiting for them, you,” Williams told them at the commencement ceremony. He was also the keynote speaker.
“It’s one thing to be ‘woke,’ another to be awake, leaned in and engaged,” he added.
The Neptunes member — who was a surprise speaker at the graduation — then brought up the Harlem Renaissance, a movement in the 1920s that surrounded intellectualism and art in the uptown section of Manhattan.
According to Williams, there’s a new renaissance going on these days, and it involves young people being educated, as well as socially aware.
“The world is watching Harlem, but this renaissance will be different,” he explained. “Believe it or not, with respect, it’s going to actually be better and the reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core.”
Some thanked Williams for the internships on social media afterward. and said he was doing a tremendous thing for young people.
“Congratulations to the graduates & you’re a wonderful person to help with education,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“We celebrate your faith and love,” another person tweeted.
“This is awesome. What can we do to help?” a third person asked.