Chance the Rapper took home the BET Humanitarian Award Sunday in L.A. for all his work helping out the Chicago public school system and its students, and Michelle Obama was one special lady to congratulate him and heap praises on that very stage with a pre-taped message.
Before BET President Debra Lee brought Chance the Rapper onstage at the BET Awards on Sunday night to accept the Humanitarian Award, she had something to tell the crowd.
“We have one more surprise from a very special lady.”
All of a sudden, former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on a video screen. The crowd burst into cheers as Obama offered a pre-taped message to 24-year-old Chance, who recently donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools.
“Thanks so much, Debra, and hello, BET family,” Obama said. “Barack and I are so sorry that we can’t be there tonight in person, but please know that we are with you in spirit and we are so incredibly proud of you, Chance.”
“In addition to making some really amazing music, Chance has been taking that big, bright spotlight that follows him around and he’s shining it on young people in our hometown of Chicago,” she continued. “Time and again he has been standing up, speaking out and doing the work to get kids in our community the education they deserve. And with these passionate efforts, Chance is showing our young people that they matter. That they have something inside of them that is worthy of being expressed, and that they have so much to contribute to their communities and to our country.”
She concluded: “Chance, you are an outstanding role model, and an inspiration to all of us who care about our next generation. Because of you, countless young people will grow up believing in themselves, fulfilling their God-given potential and then reaching back and lifting up other people along the way.”
As the crowd roared its approval, Lee added, “Thank you” calling the former FLOTUS “our forever first lady.”
The Obamas and Chance, of course, share Chicago roots. The former first lady added that she and her husband “have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper, and it has been a thrill watching him come into his own in so many ways.”
But for those who may think Chicago is the only connection that the Obamas and Chance have in common, they actually go way back. The rapper’s father, Ken Williams-Bennett, worked as former President Barack Obama’s state director when he was a senator in IL.
At the tender age of 24, Chance the Rapper accepted the Humanitarian Award during the BET Awards on Sunday for his work in his hometown of Chicago, winning over fans for both his musical talents and his philanthropic efforts.
During his acceptance speech, Chance made an impassioned plea to the federal government, juries and courts, and a number of other institutions to deliver justice to black people – those locked up for minor drug offenses, those killed by police, and schools getting screwed by higher-ups.
As he accepted the trophy, Chance called the moment “wildly overwhelming,” and said he didn’t prepare a speech because he wanted to speak from the heart.
“I had plans originally to try and tell the world and everybody watching how to make it a better place, to tell everybody in this government that y’all need to let everybody out of jail for selling weed before y’all start making it legal for people to sell it and make capital off it,” he said receiving loud applause from the audience.
At the end of his speech, Chance added that he strives to be more involved outside of his community in Chicago. “I want to travel overseas and help out people all over the world,” he said.
“Being 24, 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,” he said. “I’m a good man, and I’m going to become a better man.”
Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, has worked tirelessly since he first came on the scene to raise awareness about innumerable issues that impact the black community. From gun violence in Chicago to the poor state of public school education, the 24-year-old has reshaped the image of being a rapper.
Michelle Obama has been all praises for Chance even before this, calling Chance “an example of the power of arts education” when he donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools in March, as reported by Washington Post.
Everyone at the BET Awards was on their feet and cheering for Chance after he gave his acceptance speech. They were, of course, loving it.
[Featured Image by Feng Li/Getty Images]