Pharrell Williams has always been an advocate for women’s rights and his commencement speech to the NYU class of 2017 was no different, as he shared elements equality at their graduation ceremony.
The Grammy-winning creative received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree and spoke to the graduates on Wednesday (May 17). The “Happy” artist made a splash at the institution when he was an Artist in Residence at Tisch last year. Speaking to the group at Yankee Stadium, Williams praised Generation Z for turning the world on its head when it comes to social justice and pushing the limits of innovation in both the creative and technical channels. He also called for equality of women.
“Your generation is unraveling deeply entrenched laws, principals, and misguided values that have held women back for far too long and, therefore, have held us all back.” he said. “Imagine the possibilities when women are not held back. The world that you will live in that will be a lot better. This is the first generation that navigates with the security and confidence to treat women as equals.”
Dean Allyson Green of Tisch, called the composer a “shining example” for young people. “From his outstanding creative work to his commitment to encouraging positive change in realms of educating youth and protecting the planet, he is a shining example of the infinite possibilities the world holds for all our students as they embark on their post-college careers,” she said.
Other inspirational leaders who received doctorates at the ceremony included Thomas R. Frieden, most recent head of the Centers for Disease Control; Nobel Prize Winning Chemist Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn; Senator Barbara A. Mikulski; Author Melissa V. Harris-Perry; Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.