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Rihanna delivers powerful speech at NAACP Image Awards: "Imagine what we could do together"

Rihanna issued a powerful call for unity during her acceptance speech for the prestigious President's Award during the 51st NAACP Image Awards on Saturday. The performer and beauty mogul's words evoked multiple thunderous rounds of applause from the audience of famous faces. 

"Tonight is not really about me — because the purpose is bigger than me, right?" Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, said beginning her speech. "It's not bigger than us together, but it's bigger than me. 'Cause my part is a very small part of the work that is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done."

The President's Award is given in "recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service," according to the NAACP Image Award's website. Rihanna founded the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 in honor of her grandparents. The nonprofit champions and funds education and emergency response programs worldwide, according to its website.

"If there's anything that I've learned, it's that we can only fix this world together. We can't do it divided," the star continued. "We can't let the de-sensitivity seep in. The, 'If it's your problem, then it's not mine. Its a woman's problem, it's a black people problem, it's a poor people problem.'"

The 32-year-old singer then posed a question — asking for a show of hands from the audience.

"How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions?" she asked. "Well then, you know, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem too. So when we're marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.s and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up."

She concluded the powerful speech by thanking the NAACP and telling viewers to "imagine what we could do together."

Rihanna Says Tell Your Friends Of Other Races To "Pull Up" For Black Issues | NAACP Image Awards by BETNetworks on YouTube

Her speech garnered praise from many fans online after it aired on Saturday, including fellow celebrities. Tracee Ellis Ross tweeted, "I love this woman. Thank you for all you do @rihanna. Congratulations on a much deserved award."

"'Tell your friends to pull up...' That part!! @rihanna is really bout that life. She is a real one. A. REAL. ONE." tweeted Gabrielle Union.

It was announced that Rihanna would be honored with the special award on February 4 and join the ranks of other distinguished recipients, including Jay-Z, Colin Powell and Muhammad Ali. NAACP president Derrick Johnson presented her with the honor during the live show that aired on BET.

Disclosure: BET is a division of ViacomCBS.

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