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‘Tell Your Friends to Pull up’: Rihanna Gathers NAACP Crowd and Encourages Them to Tell Their Non-Black Friends to Join the Fight for Justice

Rihanna might want to take a bow after she stood up and called on her friends to call out people of other races to join forces in the fight for equality. 

After receiving the President’s Award at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards, the beauty maven and musician boldly told the audience full of celebrities and influencers during her acceptance speech that in order to bring communities together, alliances need to happen, CNN reports. She explained, saying that will only happen if people of color tell their peers of other races to “pull up.” 

“I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012,” Rihanna said, speaking about the non-profit organization dedicated to serving impoverished communities that bears both her grandparents’ names.  

Pasadena, California – FEBRUARY 22: Rihanna accepts the President’s Award onstage during the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET)

“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we can fix this world together. We can’t do it divided. I can’t emphasize that enough.” 

She continued: “How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions?” asked the artist. 

“Well then, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem too. So when we’re marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.s and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up,” Rihanna said to raucous applause from the Image Awards crowd as many celebrities seemed to nod in agreement.

The businesswoman turned philanthropist has made it her business to use her voice to weigh in on controversial matters before. Last year, Rihanna called out Donald Trump for what many believed to be an attempt to minimize the mass shootings that occurred in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, by saying they happened as a result of a “mental illness problem.” She flat out called it “terrorism.” 

“People are being murdered by war weapons that they legally purchase,” the singer told Vogue. “This is just not normal. That should never, ever be normal. And the fact that it’s classified as something different because of the color of their skin? It’s a slap in the face. It’s completely racist,” the singer said. 

Rihanna was recognized by the NAACP for her “groundbreaking career as an artist and musician,” but also for being a “stellar public servant,” according to a statement by 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,” he said.  

A trendsetter in her own right, Rihanna has so far secured 11 Grammy Awards and has a long catalogue of hits that has spawned the sale of at least 60 million albums. As the face of Fenty, she also made history when she partnered with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton fashion house, and became the first Black woman to do so at the helm with her own line.  

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