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Chance the Rapper delivered a powerful, impassioned speech calling for justice for the black community and vowing to become a better man after he accepted the BET Humanitarian Award on Sunday night.
The 24-year-old rapper from Chicago became the youngest person to date to receive the award for work “positively impacting both local and national communities.” He has pledged to donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools, worked on President Obama’s criminal justice program, and raised more than $2 million for his SocialWorks organization.
Before Chance the Rapper took the stage, former first lady Michelle Obama surprised a floored audience with an on-screen message praising the rapper’s “passionate efforts” to ensure children in Chicago “get the education they deserve.”
“We have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper,” Obama said. “Chance is showing our young people that they matter. That they have something inside of them that is worthy of being expressed … I can think of no better legacy to leave. And I am thrilled to celebrate you here tonight and honored to call myself your friend.”
Watch her whole introduction here:
Clearly moved and taken aback by her tribute, Chance then hopped onstage for an off-the-cuff acceptance speech.
“It feels a little early to get something like this,” he said. “But my God doesn’t make mistakes.”
He then fervently listed issues affecting his community and the country, calling out the Chicago Public School system’s finances and the government’s harsh sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
“But we have to work on ourselves before we can work on the world,” Chance concluded. “Like like I said, being 24 and getting something like this, it doesn’t feel deserved yet. But like I said — my God is putting the pressure on me so I can become who I’m supposed to be. I’m a good man, and I’m gonna become a better man.”
The crowd — and basically the entire internet — were very here for it, giving him a roaring standing ovation.
Watch his whole speech here: