Pharrell Williams, a popular singer, rapper, song producer and song writer was honored with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at New York University.
It's been a busy spring for Williams on the awards front. He received France’s Officier des Arts et des Lettres Award presented by the French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay at a ceremony during Paris Fashion Week.
Williams, the former artist in residence at Tisch School of the Arts, took the opportunity to shed light on pertinent aspects of humanity, gender equality, education, humbleness and innovation.
Addressing a crowd of students at Yankee Stadium, Williams gave a moving commencement speech during the ceremony. He started by thanking the students and faculty of the university for the “humbling experience,” before mentioning his mother, who served a lifetime for the cause of education.
"I'm very grateful," he said, before calling himself a “forever student.” "My mom is a lifelong educator, so this is gonna be a really good look for me."
The Grammy award winner further spoke about uplifting women. "As you find ways to serve humanity, it gives me great comfort knowing this generation is the first that understands that we need to lift up our women," he said. "Imagine the possibilities when we remove imbalance from the ether, because it's imbalanced right now. Imagine the possibilities when women are not held back.”
He stressed on the fact that the current generation is the one that navigates the world with the security and confidence to treat women equally.
Williams also delivered a pertinent message about social change, and working for the cause of better education for everyone after these graduates go out in the world, mentioning that the days of staying anonymous were over.
“The days of being anonymous activists or participants are over. How can we inspire if we are behind the scenes?” he said.
He concluded his address with a message of hope for a better country with better politicians.
"I know that somebody out there right now, in this class, just might occupy the White House one day," he said. "And let me be clear, not red and not blue, but maybe purple, like NYU."