Pharrell Williams has given a keynote speech at the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ (ULHR) annual Martin Luther King, Jr. awards program, where he called upon American businesses to “do more” for people of colour (POC).
The ULHR holds the awards program on the federal holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is held around mid-January each year to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday. Williams – who has been an entrepreneur and businessman for the last two decades of his career – noted in his speech that those in positions of power in corporate America should “channel their energy in the right direction” when it came to Black and POC entrepreneurs.
The N*E*R*D frontman added that several businesses – which he described as “the smart ones” – have already taken the initiative to invest in these entrepreneurs. “[They are] the ones that will be here in 50 years,” he said. “Corporations know that inclusive businesses are good businesses.”
Watch the speech in full below, which begins at the 43:55 mark:
38TH ANNUAL DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. COMMUNITY LEADERS VIRTUAL EVENT
This free virtual event honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognizes dedicated leaders in our community.
Posted by Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. on Monday, January 17, 2022
Williams goes on to single out SoftBank, a financial and venture capital group based in Japan, for “investing billions in founders of colour”.
“[They are] creating businesses, legacies, generational wealth, and changing their cities in ways more privileged founders could never have envisioned.”
Following the release of his 2014 solo album ‘GIRL’, Williams’ musical contributions have largely been reduced to sporadic guest appearances. The most recent of these came on Tyler, The Creator‘s 2021 album ‘CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST’ and on A$AP Ferg‘s single ‘Green Juice’ – the latter of which was co-produced by Williams himself as part of The Neptunes.
Williams is also set to appear on the debut studio album from fellow entrepreneur Nigo, entitled ‘I Know Nigo’.