Pharrell Williams, who delivered a keynote speech at the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ (ULHR) annual Martin Luther Kings Jr. awards programme, called upon the American business sector to “do more” for people of colour (POC).
The ULHR hosts the awards programme on the same day as the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is held in mid-January annually to commemorate the late activist’s birthday.
In his speech, Williams, who has been a businessman himself for over 20 years, argued that those in power in corporate America should “channel their energy in the right direction” with regards to Black and POC entrepreneurs.
The ‘Happy’ singer, noted that several businesses described a “the smart ones”, are already one step ahead and have invested in POC entrepreneurs. “(They are) the ones that will be here in 50 years,” he posited. “Corporations know that inclusive businesses are good businesses.”
Williams then mentioned SoftBank, a financial venture capital group based in Japan, who are “investing billions in founders of colour”. Williams added: “(They are) creating businesses, legacies, generational wealth, and changing their cities in ways more privileged founders could never have envisioned.”
Alongside his campaigning for more POC representation in the American business sector, Pharrell has been a constant figure on the pop music scene. After he released his lauded solo effort GIRL in 2014, he’s participated in a wide range of collaborations. Recently, he appeared on Tyler, the Creator’s 2021 album CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, and A$AP Ferg’s single ‘Green Juice’. The latter William co-produced as a member of The Neptunes.
Elsewhere, it was announced in December that Williams is set to appear alongside a stellar cast including A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator on the debut studio album by A Bathing Ape founder, Nigo, which will be dropped later this year.