in ,

Pharrell Williams Receives Honorary Doctorate From NSU

Pharrell Williams, an artist, and philanthropist was recently recognized at Norfolk State University during his commencement speech. Megan Ambers of Blavity has the complete story below.

“I wanted to be able to make people feel the way Norfolk State’s band made me feel,” Williams said.

Pharrell Williams, a Grammy Award-winning musician and producer, got a doctorate from Norfolk State University in Virginia over the weekend. 

Williams was honored with the medal by University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, who also made Williams an honorary member of the Spartan Legion, Norfolk State’s marching band. 

Despite not attending Norfolk University, Williams extended his gratitude to the 2021 graduates and stated his honor to be there at the commencement.

“I didn’t attend Norfolk State, but I was always present,” Williams said. “The pull of the green and the gold is strong. 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.”

Williams believes Norfolk, Virginia, will survive in the future because its past and present heroes always return, citing the example of Willis Augustus Hodges.

“As many of you here today, he was an activist,” Williams said. “He was 14 years old, chased by an angry mob to Canada, and guess what? He still came back.” 

“So yes, there is something in the water, and it has been there for a long time,” he said.

Williams stated that in the next five years, the city will look completely different, citing Norfolk’s “inclusive, invigorated, pro-business community.” 

In his hometown of Virginia Beach, Williams recently spoke out against unfairness and police violence. Williams’ cousin, Donovon Lynch, was fatally shot by a police officer in March 2021. A grand jury later found that the shooting was justified. 

The producer said that he will not bring his music festival, Something in the Water, back to the city after expressing discontent with the city’s treatment of his cousin’s situation.

“That was a toxic situation that was hurtful to my family,” he said at the time. “If you’re cool with it going down like that, then you’ve got to do some soul searching.”

He also reminded the grads to be conscious of their spending habits and to patronize local companies.

“We are the emerging majority,” he said. “Don’t wait until Election Day. Vote with your wallets today, tomorrow, and the next day. Does the business owner look like you? Shop there.”  

“You have the ability to create the city that you deserve, the life that you deserve,” he added before concluding his speech. 

Written by

Leave a Reply

Black-Owned Coffee Shop to Stay Open After Community Raises Over $80K

Ghana Opens First-Ever ‘Off The Wall’ Skatepark Honoring Fashion Icon Abloh