BY Emily Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were recognized on Saturday for their distinguished public service and philanthropic contributions, accepting the President’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards.
The royal couple made an in-person appearance at the awards ceremony to accept the honor, which in the past has gone to notable Black public figures such as Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, LeBron James, and Rihanna. Meghan and Harry were given the award in celebration of the work they’ve done over the last two years through their Archewell Foundation, including focusing on global vaccine equity, women’s equality, and the Black Lives Matter movement. The Duchess also brought her mother, Doria Ragland, to the awards show.
During their acceptance speech, Meghan said: “It’s inspiring to think about the legacy of the Image Awards, which began shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed into law. Today, we can continue that legacy by re-establishing federal voting protections in our country and fulfilling the work of civil rights giants, like the late John Lewis. We are so deeply humbled to be here in the company of so many illustrious awardees.”
Harry then took a moment to speak on the situation in Ukraine. “Before I begin, we would like to acknowledge the people of Ukraine, who urgently need our continued support as a global community,” he said. “I also echo the immense gratitude for tonight, both for this award and this community for welcoming me so warmly. I think it’s safe to say that I come from a very different background from my incredible wife, yet our lives were brought together for a reason. We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to combat injustice and a belief that the most often overlooked are the most important to listen to.”
Meghan added: “And I couldn’t be prouder that we’re doing this work together. We moved to California, my home state, shortly before the murder of George Floyd. For Black America, those nine minutes and 29 seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of our unhealed wounds. In the months that followed, as my husband and I spoke with the civil rights community, we committed ourselves and our organization, Archewell, to illuminating those who are advancing racial justice and progress.”
The couple also took the opportunity to announce that they have partnered with the NAACP on a brand new award, the NAACP Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award. This honor is meant to celebrate those leaders who are merging social justice with technology to advance civil and human rights. The inaugural award was presented by NAACP president Derrick Johnson to Dr. Safiya Noble, the cofounder of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and a well-respected author and scholar.
Harry said of the award’s first recipient: “Safiya’s work speaks to a new chapter in the movement for civil rights. This community knows what it means to speak up for what is right and to march for what is just. As this fight for justice still remains, it’s time to extend this march to the world online, a place where hate and discrimination are fueled instantly, propagated globally and felt deeply.”
Meghan concluded, “We are proud to partner with NAACP and each of you to translate the vital efforts of those who came before us to the modern challenges that exist ahead of us. Thank you so much for joining us in this work, and thank you again for this incredible honor. Truly.”
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