"If there's anything that I've learned, it's that we can only fix this world together," Rihanna said

By Eric Todisco Darlene Aderoju
February 23, 2020 12:15 PM

Rihanna had the crowd on their feet at the 51st NAACP Image Awards Saturday night.

The “Umbrella” singer received a standing ovation for her powerful speech when accepting the President’s Award at the star-studded ceremony at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California.

“Thank you to Derrick [Johnson] and thank you to the staff of the NAACP, including all of you guys here in this room, and everyone at home watching who devoted their lives and efforts toward supporting people of color,” Rihanna, 32, began.

“Okay I’m gonna try to keep this simple because tonight is not really about me. The purpose is bigger than me, it’s not bigger than us together, but it’s bigger than me because my part is a very small part of the work that’s being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done,” the singer continued.

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“I’m lucky I was able to start at the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 and if there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together,” she said. “We can’t do it divided, I can’t emphasize that enough. We can’t let the desensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, it’s not mine. It’s a woman problem, it’s a black people’s problem, it’s a poor people problem.’ ”

Rihanna received applause throughout the speech from the crowd, which included actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Angela Bassett.

“I mean how many people in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions, show of hand,” the star added. “Well then you know they wanna break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem too. So when we are marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.s and Tatiana Jeffersons of the worlds, tell your friends to pull up.”

“Thank you to the NAACP for your efforts to ensure equality for our communities,” Rihanna said. “Thank you for celebrating our strength and tenacity. We have been denied opportunities since the beginning of time and still, we prevail. I am honored and imagine what we can do together.”

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Rihanna released her most recent album, ANTI, in 2016. But the Grammy Award winner has stayed busy over the past four years.

She launched Fenty Beauty, unveiled her Savage x Fenty lingerie line and announced the Fenty Maison line under French luxury goods conglomerate LVHM, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Rihanna, who dated billionaire Hassan Jameel for nearly three years until they split earlier this year, also starred in a handful of films, including Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Ocean’s 8 and Guava Island.

Rihanna has shared that highly anticipated new album R9 is coming soon — but has yet to confirm a release date, despite fan insistence.