We already know Pharrell Williams loves giving back to his community in Virginia, so his latest move should come as no surprise.
On Saturday, December 11, the producer wanted to inspire the youth who come from the sam background as him, telling the newest graduates of a historically black university in Virginia to act like “the emerging majority.”
Pharrell gave the fall commencement speech to the class of 2020 at Norfolk State University, which is not far from where the legendary musician grew up in adjoining Virginia Beach.
During his speech, the “Happy” artist told graduating students to do their part by spending money at local businesses and by changing outdated language, including the word “minorities.”
“We are the emerging majority,” he explained to the crowd. “Don’t wait until Election Day. Vote with your wallets today, tomorrow and the next day.”
“I didn’t attend Norfolk State, but I was always present,” Williams added. “I am honored to have made this part of my work, my story and still today, I can’t wait to see how far you amazing, impressive graduates of Norfolk State … how far you’ll go.”
Not only did Williams speak to the students on their special day, but it was also a special day for the musician, who received an honorary doctorate from the school, also being named an honorary member of Norfolk State’s marching band. According to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, the honor brought him to tears.
Prior to the presentation, Pharrell said he remembered the band as a child and wondered why the band at his Virginia Beach high school lacked the same “cadence” as Norfolk State.
“I wanted to be able to make people feel the way Norfolk State’s band made me feel,” he explained.
Williams went on to say that the city of Norfolk will thrive because it recognizes how important it is to acknowledge past and local heroes: “Norfolk will not be the city that limits its peoples’ own potential, but instead, it will feed it.”