Amnesty International presented Alicia Keys with the Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday, and the singer delivered a moving speech at the Montreal, Canada event. Keys spoke about the rights of indigenous people, as well as the gender wage gap and other human rights issues.
The singer started her speech by quoting the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Keys noted that the declaration was adopted almost 70 years ago — but inequality is still rampant across the globe.
Keys spoke specifically about the Kanien’kehá:ka people, whom she said have fought "a heart-rending struggle" for their rights. The Amnesty International ceremony honored other figures involved with the Indigenous rights movement as well. Amnesty International has also started a petition for Canada to "set a positive example for the international community" by honoring its indigenous people.
"Just across the border, in the land of the free, where I was born, the same struggle exists," Keys said in her speech. "I wonder why are native people the most oppressed? The ones that have been here the longest? The ones that built a whole country with sweat and tears yet still have to fight for their dignity?"
"In North America, we are free and equal on paper, but not in reality," Keys added. "Women are still paid less than men. Children go without food, without healthcare. Our LGBTQ sisters and brothers are victims of hate crimes. And the color of our skin determines whether we make it home alive after a routine traffic stop."
Keys' speech nailed why intersectionality is so important when we talk about human rights issues. She also mentioned activists in the United States, like DeRay McKesson and Laverne Cox, who are fighting for equality. You can read Keys' moving speech in full here.
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