Sunday, 27 February 2022

'Our Lives Were Brought Together For A Reason': Harry & Meghan Receive NAACP President's Award

For their first joint appearance of 2022, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were honoured at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards.

We last saw the couple together in November in New York, and they have been working quietly on their projects, commitments with streamers, and their foundation Archewell. They welcomed Princess Eugenie, her husband Jack Brooksbank and their son August for a catch up. Harry and Eugenie enjoyed a night at the Super Bowl, and the foursome appeared to have a wonderful time at a dinner date afterwards. Click here to see images.

The NAACP shared the following on their history: "As the nation's oldest civil rights organization, we remain a fixture in fighting for civil rights and social justice for all. Through our annual awards we highlight the achievements of individuals and our branches, trailblazers who are actively on the front lines driving progress in business, law, education, and other sectors. In honoring their work and commitment, we aim to further the legacy of our organization, while championing future generations of civil rights leaders."

Harry and Meghan began working privately with the NAACP in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd's death. At the time, they were reaching out to community leaders and those representing a variety of organisations in order to determine how best they can lend their support to Black Lives Matter. When the couple publicly backed Stop Hate for Profit, the NAACP released a statement in praise of the Sussexes' leadership, noting, "Your commitment to truth, justice, and equality are appreciated." During a virtual appearance for Vax Live last year, Meghan selected a pendant by Awe Inspired, which was launched in 2017 by three-time cancer survivor Jill Johnson and her son Max to be the "Livestrong of fine jewelry". To date, Awe Inspired has donated over half a million dollars to charities including the NAACP.

Town & Country reports:

Following discussions in 2020, NAACP President Derrick Johnson spoke with OprahMag.com, detailing his discussion with the royal couple.

"After the George Floyd incident, we did have a conversation with them about just the state of things, as they were exploring ways that they could be supportive, in that moment," Johnson said.

The NAACP President expressed gratitude for Meghan and Harry's involvement and noted their passion for issues of racial injustice.

Johnson noted, "I think their concern and compassion is genuine and we really appreciate their thought partnership on how to address this most immediate issue we have."

There was quite a bit of additional significance to the couple attending tonight: they were chosen to receive the prestigious President's Award in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service. A statement from the Sussexes read: "It's a true honor to be recognized by President Derrick Johnson and the NAACP, whose efforts to propel racial justice and civil rights are as vital today as they were nearly 115 years ago." Harry and Meghan follow in the footsteps of recipients including Ella Fitzgerald, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, President Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, LeBron James and Rihanna.

The Hill reports:

'NAACP President Derrick Johnson praised Harry and Meghan, saying they have “heeded the call to social justice and have joined the struggle for equity both in the U.S. and around the world.”

The pair drew accolades last month when they supplied the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta with Black-owned food trucks for volunteers during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service project.'

Harry and Meghan made an inspiring speech.


'During the couple's speech, Harry thanked the Black community for "welcoming me so warmly," while Meghan, who brought her mom Doria Ragland to the awards show, said she "couldn't be prouder."

"It's inspiring to think about the legacy of the Image Awards, which began shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed into law," Meghan said after the couple walked on stage together. "Today, we can continue that legacy by re-establishing federal voting protections in our country and fulfilling the work of civil rights giants, like the late John Lewis.

"We are so deeply humbled to be here in the company of so many illustrious awardees."

Harry added, "Before I begin, we would like to acknowledge the people of Ukraine, who urgently need our continued support as a global community. I also echo the immense gratitude for tonight, both for this award and this community for welcoming me so warmly. I think it's safe to say that I come from a very different background from my incredible wife, yet our lives were brought together for a reason. We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to combat injustice and a belief that the most often overlooked are the most important to listen to."

Meghan then said, "And I couldn't be prouder that we're doing this work together. We moved to California, my home state, shortly before the murder of George Floyd. For Black America, those nine minutes and 29 seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of our unhealed wounds. In the months that followed, as my husband and I spoke with the civil rights community, we committed ourselves and our organization, Archewell, to illuminating those who are advancing racial justice and progress."

Additionally, Harry and Meghan were on hand to launch an important new award. The newly created annual NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award "to acknowledge and support a new generation of leaders". The winner will be awarded $100,000 to spend in the field of digital equity. A statement on Arcehwell read: "Each year, an individual will be recognized for their work in advancing solutions to some of tech’s biggest social justice issues; topics such as discrimination, misinformation, privacy, profiling, surveillance, and increasing diversity in the tech sector."

More from Archewell:

'The inaugural recipient of the 2022 award is Dr. Safiya Noble, an internet studies scholar and Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Noble serves as the Co-Founder and Faculty Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, which is a partner to Archewell Foundation. In 2021, she was recognized as a MacArthur Fellow for her groundbreaking work on algorithmic discrimination, which enabled her recent founding of Equity Engine, a new nonprofit committed to creating the conditions for Black women and women of color to thrive through access to education, investments, mentorship and mutual aid. In addition, Dr. Noble is the author of a bestselling book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines reinforce Racism (NYU Press).

Dr. Noble has demonstrated leadership and innovation in her trailblazing approach to creating a digital ecosystem that contributes to a more inclusive and equitable society. It is with great admiration that The Archewell Foundation and the NAACP recognize her for her work.'

When Archewell launched, the couple confirmed the creation of "Archewell Foundation Fund for the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, under the shared leadership of acclaimed researchers, professors, and authors Dr. Safiya Noble and Dr. Sarah T. Roberts". The research center focuses on "addressing the role of the internet in undermining democracy, civil and human rights. The Center advocates for more equitable and socially just internet policies and practices".

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More from the Hollywood Reporter:

'Noble was recognized as a MacArthur Fellow in 2021 for her work on algorithmic discrimination, leading her to found the nonprofit Equity Engine, dedicated to supporting Black women and women of color with access to education, resources and mentorship. She authored the best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.

In a statement, Noble praised the NAACP and Archewell Foundation “for contributing to our efforts to create more compassionate and democratic societies where Black women and women of color can thrive, too.”

On Safiya and her body of work, Harry said, "Safiya's work speaks to a new chapter in the movement for civil rights. This community knows what it means to speak up for what is right and to march for what is just. As this fight for justice still remains, it's time to extend this march to the world online, a place where hate and discrimination are fueled instantly, propagated globally and felt deeply". Meghan added: "This is the era of the digital justice movement. We are proud to partner with NAACP and each of you to translate the vital efforts of those who came before us to the modern challenges that exist ahead of us. Thank you so much for joining us in this work, and thank you again for this incredible honor. Truly".

Doria looking every inch the proud mum.

The star-studded award did not have an in-person audience, but nominees, winners and presenters were there in person. Hosted by Anthony Anderson (for the ninth consecutive year), guests included Kerry Washington, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L Jackson, Mary J Blige, Zendaya, Tiffany Haddish and Paula Patton.

Prince Harry meeting award-winner Jennifer Hudson.

Harry and Meghan certainly looked the part tonight. The couple selected designs from two incredible Black designers. Harry's tux is by English designer Ozwald Boateng. Known for his modern twist on classic tailoring, he has been credited with drawing a younger generation to Savile Row. In 2008, Boateng was appointed to the REACH committee, as part of an independent panel to identify and recruit national role models who work to help raise aspirations of Black boys.

The Duchess' gorgeous one shoulder two-tone gown with draped detail is by one of the most exciting new names in fashion -- Christopher John Rogers

The 28-year-old has described his aesthetic as "pragmatic glamour". The winner of the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2019 and the CFDA American Womenswear Designer of the Year Award, his use of vibrant shades and bold colour have been a trademark.

An important moment in the designer's career came when Vice-President Kamala Harris chose an elegant purple ensemble by the designer for the inauguration. His designs are loved by Regina King, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga.

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A fascinating profile from the Cut:

'In the fourth grade, Rogers and his group of friends passed around a notepad and created their own comic books, and he discovered fashion design while drawing outfits for his characters. He didn’t feel comfortable asking his parents to buy him fashion magazines, but on the internet, he could find entire editorials from Elle and i-D that generous strangers had scanned and uploaded. He went on YouTube and watched the shows presenting the highly tailored, opulent clothes of Alexander McQueen and the punk, theatrical pieces of Vivienne Westwood. He sketched looks from the runway shows of labels like Baby Phat, which featured thin silhouettes, short skirts, and small corset tops alongside big shirts and pants.

“It was the sick proportions, it was the attitude of the person walking, that just felt so confident,” he said. “I was never that confident. So that attracted me — I want to feel that way or make people feel that way.” He uploaded his sketches to DeviantArt, a pre-Instagram platform where artists could comment on each other’s work. Rogers saved eye-pleasing color-field art, scans of comic books, and images of the eccentric magazine editor Isabella Blow. “LiveJournal, DeviantArt, and Tumblr were formative for me to figure out what my voice was, what people responded to, how I could create community,” he said. “Which I needed to survive and not be bored to death.”

Growing up in Baton Rouge, Rogers was taught that he always had to look “nice” — presentable, put-together — “especially as a Black person, you couldn’t give anyone a reason to say anything,” he said. One of the most polished dressers he knew was his grandmother, who passed away the summer before he started sixth grade. “She was always monochromatic: It was a green jacket, green shoe, green bag. Red jacket, red shirt, red shoe.” But Rogers was resistant. When dressing for church, he tried to slightly disrupt expectations; he would wear a lime-green tie with an olive-green shirt under his suit blazer. These ensembles constituted some of his earliest experiments with color. “I implement that sort of color theory in the work that I do now,” Rogers said. “I like mixing shades of the same color in a look that wouldn’t necessarily go together.”

There's a very insightful conversation between the designer and Tracee Ellis Ross below.

Meghan accessorised with a pair of statement earrings by Alexis Bittar (with thanks to What Meghan Wore). The Large Crumpled Stud earrings are a fabulous addition - each purchase supplies 9 essential items to families supported by Save The Children. Take 20% off your first purchase with code OLIVELA20. They are also available at Saks Fifth Avenue

She wore Princess Diana's gold bracelet with a blue stone.

And her Cartier Love bracelet. 

What Meghan Wore suggests Meghan may have worn Aquazzura's Celeste Glitter Sandals. From the limited photos we've seen, they do look like a solid match. They are described: "Delicate twisted straps in a sparkling glitter finish highlights these sleek stiletto sandals."

The Duchess' choice of blue (fast becoming her signature hue for evening events) was a splendid choice. I imagine quite a bit of thought was given to tonight's look, hence the choice of designer. The blue matched the background of the studio perfectly, however it's hard to imagine, with the devastating situation in Ukraine which the couple have spoken about on Archewell and again tonight, that the colour along with the gold jewellery wasn't coordinated to pay homage to the Ukraine flag.

A wonderful event with an equally special speech. I'm sure it was an unforgettable night for Doria, too.

29 comments:

  1. What a stunning look, one of her best evening gowns. I love that Meghan brought back the one shoulder and gave us a split too! It’s great to see her and Harry being embraced in their home and recognised for the work they have done separately and together. They really have grown so much and have so much more to give. Service really is universal for them. Thanks for putting up this blog at this late (or is it early?) hour!

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  2. I’m sure the dress was planned well in advance of the current crisis in Ukraine...
    I thought Meghan looked fabulous. Her body has changed since her babies as most women do and I have often felt that designers have not given her adequate respect. For the first time in a while, she’s been given a properly tailored dress that fits her and is neither baggy or boxy nor is it suffocatingly tight. She likes her neutrals but colors love her. Wish we could get a better glance at the accessories! Those shoes look like torture to wear! I stand amazed at people who can walk in things like that... All in all, a solid win.
    -PB

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  3. They both look great. Lovely to see Meghan in particular as we haven't seen nearly as much of her as I thought we would! Love the dress and especially the designers.

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  4. It is always a pleasure to read Charlotte's well written article with the supporting research and details on Dr Safiya's work as well as the background on the 2 clothes designers.

    Vogue described the dress as "bold and bombastic". I would think it was a more subdued and elegant look.

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  5. I love this look - very elegant, perfect hair too! Such a gorgeous gown with its many shades of blue and the stylishly draped train. What a wonderful honour to receive for their continued striving for justice and equality. They make a great team.

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  6. You can't imagine how happy I am to hear from the Sussexes on this blog. Despite this tragedy that is happening in Ukraine, I am happy to see this magnificent couple rewarded for their commitment and the future Archewell Prize, I find it well thought out.
    Very happy to read you again Charlotte.

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  7. I love this elegant gown on Meghan, and I congratulate them on their efforts and their success. It's good to hear positive messages from other parts of the world!

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  8. It's been so long since we had anything from the Sussexes, but I've been happy that H&M appear to be enjoying their lives right now! She looked wonderful -- completely love the dress. The NAACP is a hugely important organization. They started in 1909 and had to battle the Jim Crow laws when so much of the US government was dedicated to taking away all rights from nonwhite citizens. In many ways, there are parallels between what people of color have faced in the US and what the Ukrainian people are facing with Putin, including having whole cities destroyed.

    I also love how this dress is fitted -- it is not skin tight but retains its intended form. It's truly my favorite so far of her gowns. Can't wait for the earrings to be identified. Also, I hear there is a photo of Doria, in a black dress. Looking forward to seeing her again!

    Thank you for this wonderful post.

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    1. @Allison in US
      Interesting comparison between Jim Crow laws and the invasion of Ukraine.
      Renee

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  9. Wonderful to see Harry, Meghan & Doria. Love the dress, great partnership with NAACP. Excited to see posts on this blog again! -op

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  10. Thank you Charlotte for this terrific summary. Your posts are always the best and most complete account of Sussex events and activities. Meghan and Harry continue to do the impactful work that they are known for and are now free to lean in with organizations and causes that they have prioritized. As an NAACP member, I look forward to seeing them presenting the NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award each year. To be able to see them looking so healthy and happy and seeing Meghan's mom Doria Ragland is an extra treat.

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  11. Very eloquent and lovely..... What a lovely couple.

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  12. So happy to see that designers are bringing back the so called one shoulder Goddess dress. I have seen several recently at Cocktail Parties in knee length versions. Definitely, a show stopper. I agree totally that this particular style in addition to a sheath dress compliments Meghan's frame the best. Its been said a hundred times, they are such an attractive couple. I saw a group photo of them with Dora. Dora as well is such an attractive women and always beautifully dressed. Congrats on their award from a very well noted organization.

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  13. Thank you Charlotte for a lovely post! About all I can say is how thrilled I am to see Meghan and Harry receive the acknowledgment for their humanitarian work that they so rightly deserve! I know that they don’t “expect” any acknowledgment or awards but do this work because it’s what in their hearts which makes this so special!

    Meghan looks especially stunning tonight and really seems to glow from within! It really shows what leading a purpose driven life, in service to others and ignoring the noise can do for a person 😊❤️

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lauri for your good comment.
      I agree

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  14. This is a lovely gown. I don't like the long train at the back. Choice of jewels is fabulous.
    Dora looked divine, her dress was perfection.

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  15. the duke and duchess of sussex truly deserve their award on other hand i love there speech and look great and stunning in there outfit

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  16. This NAACP event set the right tone of celebration of commitment (Meghan and Harry among luminous others)to a hugely important cause and respectful acknowledgment of the invasion of Ukraine. Thank you Charlotte for your always excellent reporting.
    Love Meghan’s dress!!
    Renee

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  17. Thank you, Charlotte, for your wonderful coverage of this event. Harry and Meghan looked fabulous. They look more and more relaxed and happy in their new home. I'm thrilled that the NAACP recognized their work with this award. Great to see the very lovely Doria, too.

    R

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  18. Glad to see Harry and Meghan and they look stunningly dynamic together. Harry and really rock a tux, and I love Meghan's whole look, but those shoes have got to be supremely uncomfortable! Their speech was impressive because it said so much in so few words. Everything, their causes and current events were put into a coherent vision of their views and their work, and they spoke their truth and shared something of their own lives.

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    1. Agree, it was an impressive 3 minute acceptance speech that poignantly brought up 2 points

      1. There is still a need to re=establish federal voting protection nearly 60 years after the Voting Rights Law was passed in 1965.

      2.The horror of George Floyd senseless murder in 21st century America.

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  19. she looks gorgeous and their speech was wonderful. as a Black woman I am thrilled to see this!

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  20. Love this event; love the NAACP; love what Harry & Meghan are doing. The dresses are gorgeous (Meghan's and her mother's both). Charlotte, I so appreciate what you do.

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  21. I'm loving this so much! First of all: I missed my babies!!! Why do they have to disappear for months and months all the time?! They look stunning omg. I'm also loving their support for black businesses through their outfit choice. And lastly it's so surreal to see royals at an naacp event: it is such a moment, I mean royals have such bloody and thorny and uncomfortable history with africans and african-americans so this is really a sign of how important Harry and Meghan are, how historically significant their union is and how far we've come but also given what happened to them in their years in the UK how far we still have to go in terms of racial justice and equality. God bless the Sussexes and all the amazing people fighting the good fight.

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  22. I'm really not so interested in what they are wearing at this event, because I have been looking forward so much to hearing more about the programmes they were working on to promote social justice and civil participation. After all the main reason they left UK was because they couldn't speak out on important issues. I know Covid has been a problem, but frankly they could be doing much more. We have heard very little from them over the past two years. They made such a promising start with the appointment of outstanding staff with the right skills and signing the contracts with Netflix and Spotisfy to produce documentaries and other material. There are so many areas crying out for attention in the USA alone - gun control, the death penalty, drone attacks on civilians in other countries, getting the US government to join the World Court so it can put more pressure on those who commit war crimes in Ukraine. Harry made the first episode of a mental health series with Oprah, but now everything seems to have ground to a halt. Meghan is largely invisible apart from the court cases and now Harry seems to be going down that road as well. Apart from advising us which charities they support and encouraging us to follow suit, they don't appear to be directly involved in any practical activities. Everything they've actually achieved could have been done without giving up their senior Royal status. What is the problem? Do any of you have the answer?

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  23. I am looking forward to Invictus!! I'd like to add that I am glad H&M did not (or appear to have not) attended the big Beckham wedding. The situation in Ukraine, as well as in so many other areas of the world, makes events like this hugely self-absorbed and elitist.

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  24. Sorry I know this isn't where I should be posting this but do you have a link to follow the Invictus-related events they'll be attending? Thank you so much!

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    1. Hello, of course! I'll be updating the calendar page as events are announced https://madaboutmeghan.blogspot.com/p/meghans.html

      My blog post will be ready in just a few minutes covering the first event :) The Invictus Games social media is a fantastic resource.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)