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Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:11:04
Rihanna is known for keeping busy. Her creative output is not small, her collaborations usually hit gold, or platinum, and her charitable work appears endless. Having received a number of awards for her musical projects the pop icon has now been recognized for her humanitarian work — and has just been awarded Harvard University’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award.
The singer received the award in recognition for her work to improve cancer treatment in her home country of Barbados, and for setting up a college scholarship to bring students from the Caribbean to study in the United States.
You can watch the ceremony below — Rihanna’s speech begins at the 1:14:00 mark. She gives a funny, and touching speech with a jaunty flip of her pony tail and the quip, “So, I made it to Harvard.”
The remained of her speech was more focused on the roots of her humanitarian concerns, and her basic instinct to improve life for people. She spoke about the TV commercials she watched as a child, that asked people to donate just 25 cents to help children in need. “I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up, and I can get rich, I’m gonna save kids all over the world. I just didn’t know I would be in the position to do that by the time I was a teenager.”
“All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian. People make it seem way too hard, man. The truth is — and what the little girl watching those commercials didn’t know — is that you don’t have to be rich to be a humanitarian, to help somebody. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be college-educated.”
Rihanna also used her speech to honor the people that inspired her various efforts, including a young girl who died of leukemia at age six and the singer’s own grandmother, whose battle with cancer was the driving force behind the Clara Lionel Foundation.
In her concluding remarks, Rihanna encouraged the congregation to commit to helping one person, one cause, in any way possible. She then passed on a poignant piece of advice from her grandmother: “If you got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.”
For fans of the singer, who have been following her work — this award comes as clearly deserved recognition. For those less aware of Rihanna’s work beyond music, this event can serve as a measure of inspiration, and uncynical dedication from an artist using her position to the best of her abilities.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff