Nas Receives Harvard W.E.B. Du Bois Medal for Social Justice Work
Nas is a legend in the hip-hop game and now the Illmatic creator is being recognized for his work in another field -- social justice. The 42-year-old rapper received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University on Wednesday (Sept. 30), becoming the first hip-hop artist to do so.
The award, named after the highly revered civil rights activist, celebrates individuals who contribute to the efforts to achieve human rights for all. It is also one of Harvard’s highest honor.
The "If I Ruled The World" rhymer, decked out in a suit for the ceremony, was joined by professors, students and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. But it was the children that Queensbridge, N.Y. native had on his mind.
“These are the things the kids need to see. The real things,” he said during his acceptance speech. “This is a light I want on me. I hope that I can be a great role model for those kids...you can be more than the typical image of rap.”
Mr. Jones later went to Instagram to share his excitement on the prize.
“Historic night for the rap game. At the Hutchins Center Honors for the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal ceremony. This is a first for the Rap Game to receive this award but, definitely not the last. Thank you. #HarvardHistory,” he wrote.
As for the attendants, it's clear the half man, half amazing rhymer was on their mind. Even the U.S. Attorney General couldn't deny Nas' cool factor. "I took some pictures with Nas before I came up here. My level of coolness must have gone up 1,000 percent,” he joked.
U.S. Attorney General Holder is one of the recipients this year along with Nas. Others include legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, founder of Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, artist Carrie Mae Weems and others.
Nas joins an esteemed list of past honorees like Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Tavis Smiley, Toni Morrison and the late Maya Angelou.
Check out photos of Nas' and his new hardware below.