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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 Sunday night.
The 24-year-old rapper from Chicago became the youngest person to date to receive the prestigious award for his 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 he took the stage, Michelle Obama surprised a floored audience with an on-screen message to introduce the award and praise Chance's “passionate efforts” to ensure children of color “get the education they deserve.”
“We are so incredibly proud of you Chance. We have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper,” the former first lady 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.”
Clearly moved and taken aback by her tribute, Chance then hopped on stage 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 off issues affecting his community and the country, calling out the Chicago Public School system, the government's harsh sentences for non-violent offenders, specifically “selling weed — before you start making it legal for people to sell it and make capital off of it.”
But we have to work on ourselves before “we can work on the world,” Chance noted passionately, expressing his desire to be a better father to his daughter, spend more time with his cousins, and get more involved outside of Chicago to “help people all over the world.”
“Like like I said, being 24 and getting something like this, it doesn't feel deserved yet,” he said. “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. Thank you Ms. Lee, thank you BET, thank you black people, thank you mom. I love y'all.”
The crowd, like basically the entire internet, was very here for it and gave him a roaring, standing ovation.
Watch his whole speech here