While the queen recovers from COVID-19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a rare public appearance at the 2022 NAACP Image Awards. America’s favorite royals were there on Saturday, February 26, to receive the President’s Award for their social-justice advocacy and charity work. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex join previous winners Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Muhammad Ali, and they used their speech to shine a light on everything from voting rights to Ukraine.
In their less-than-three-minute speech, the couple managed to cram in a whole host of social and political issues. Meghan kicked it off by calling for “re-establishing federal voting protections” in the U.S. before Harry took over the mic to speak on the Ukraine crisis, saying, “We would like to acknowledge the people of Ukraine who urgently need our continued support as a global community.” Meghan then noted that the pair and their son, Archie, moved to the U.S. just before the murder of George Floyd. “For Black America, those nine minutes and 29 seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of our unhealed wounds,” she said. “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.”
To that end, Harry and Meghan used their speech to launch their new partnership with the NAACP, the NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award. The annual award will give out one $100,000 stipend to leaders “that are creating transformational change at the intersection of social justice and technology — working to advance civil and human rights.” Harry and Meghan gave the inaugural award to Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble and her organization, Equity Engine. And, they did it all while wearing clothes from Black designers, with Meghan wearing a dress by Christopher John Rogers and Harry wearing a tux from Ozwald Boateng.
It’s notable that Harry and Meghan, a woman who has been the subject of a reported online hate campaign on both Twitter and YouTube, are focusing on “digital justice” with their new award. In the second half of their speech, Harry described the internet as “a place where hate and discrimination are fueled instantly, propagated globally, and felt deeply.” Well … he’s definitely not wrong!