Just as Black History Month was ending, the Town Hall in New York City pulled out a seat at their table and made room to honor Solange Knowles with the inaugural Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact.
Fun Fact: The Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact is the first major entertainment award to be named after a woman of color.
“I was about 5 years old when I first saw The Wiz,” Solange said while accepting her award last Friday. And The Wiz, which featured the late Lena Horne, was the first time Solange saw anyone on screen that looked like her. That representation ignited a creative fire in her. Solange described Horne’s presence in the film as “astounding, beautiful, graceful, but strong,” and when Horne said, “If you believe within your heart, you will know that no one will change the path that you shall go,” even at age 5, the Grammy-winning artist said this line showed her that her dreams could come to fruition.
During her acceptance speech, Solange also shared how she met “fear” during the making of her latest album, When I Get Home. Solange was candid about the “fear of the unknown, fear of trust, fear of love, fear of silence, fear of having to confront things and pain” that she felt she may have buried deep inside. At that moment, Solange reminded us that even though she’s a celebrity, she deals with trials and tribulations just like everyone else.
Another portion of her speech that stood out was when she discussed how easy it was to show up and be strong for everyone else, but a struggle to do the same for yourself. It served as a reminder that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you need to do the work to pour into yourself as much as you do others.
Solange took time during her speech to recite something that we all should know and be grateful for: Black women always show up.
“Without black women’s love, there would be no me on the stage,” Solange said.
Her mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, told the Town Hall audience that this was a night she would not miss. Three weeks after having knee surgery, Knowles-Lawson said she made it a point to show up for her baby—something Solange also made note of during her speech when she said her mom showed up and made her some of her infamous cornbread during trying times.
One of the hardest things to do in this world is to exist in it. Sometimes just the act of waking up is a parade-worthy celebration, and Solange’s speech reminded us that we need to always show up for ourselves “however hard or scary” that may be.