Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade hit the stage at the 54th NAACP Image Awards and delivered a powerful speech as they accepted the prestigious President’s Award –and dedicated the honor to their daughter, Zaya.
In their acceptance speech on Saturday, Dwyane and Gabrielle addressed the Black community and stressed how important the fight for equality — for all — still is.
“We don’t stand up here alone. As we know, it takes a village, it takes community. We stand up here today as two people who have worked tirelessly to have resources and access. As two people willing to use our microphones for what we believe and what other families are going through,” Dwyane told the audience. “I’m intentional when I use my platform. I recognize what I’ve been given and it is my job to uplift the voices of others and share my access and resources.”
Then, Wade took time to directly address Zaya. “I want to take this moment to publicly speak to our daughter Zaya. Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I have sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I’ve watched you walk out of the house every morning as yourself,” he said.
“I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement,” he continued. “Thank you for showing me that there is more than just one way to communicate you’ve taught me that communicating with my mouth isn’t enough. I have to communicate with my ears and my two eyes. As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your wishes, your hopes, and your dreams. Zaya you’ve made me a better human by simply being who you were born to be: our baby girl, Zaya Wade. Thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I am proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father.”
Union stepped up to share her gratitude for the award, calling it “humbling to stand here surrounded by friends, heroes, OGs and icons all working to advance the lives of Black people and pay respect to an organization that’s led us through over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph and change.”
She continued: “[An organization that] now stands with us again at the foot of a very new era of activism. A new era that demands a collective answer to one simple question. Will we fight for some or will we fight for all of our people?”
“Let’s just name a couple of hard truths. First, the intersection of Black rights and the rights of LGBTQIA, trans and gender non-conforming people continues to be rough. Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to some of the most vulnerable among us,” she added. “And second, Black trans people are being terrorized targeted and hunted in this country every day. And there’s rarely a whisper about it.”
“We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do the work as parents. Parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe,” Union said emphatically. “This is a conversation worth having in ways that can actually build bridges. That don’t fan the flames of hatred or division. That don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when Black trans people are under attack. That don’t drive more young people to hate themselves or harm themselves. That don’t cost people their lives. So. we are humbled and we are hopeful for the future. We are hopeful that we will witness a real shift in the fight for justice the moment the movement makes room for everyone. Everyone.”
Watch the most powerful acceptance speech of the night below.
.@DwyaneWade and @ItsGabrielleU honor their daughter Zaya while accepting the President's Award at the #NAACPImageAwards pic.twitter.com/X0M1uRw2dr
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 26, 2023