Considering Solange’s contributions to the culture, it's a perfect pairing. According to the institution’s website, the recipient must exude behavior that improves “relations among racial and ethnic groups within the University and to enhance the quality of our common life."
In the fall of 2016, Solange dropped A Seat At The Table. The critically-acclaimed album was a tour de force from beginning to end: it tackled Black womanhood, Black existence and Black joy throughout. “This shit is for us,” she sings on the track “F.U.B.U.” The album also earned Solange her first Grammy award for R&B performance for “Cranes in the Sky.” She then embarked on a major tour, Orion’s Rise.
Before the album and since, Solange has continuously used her artistry in a manner that both critiques and questions major social issues. In 2017, she was also named as one of Glamour’s Women of The Year. During her acceptance speech, she said, “We as women are told from the second that we come into our own that we must not only shoot for the moon but hold it in our hands, turn it until the morning, nurture all of its rings … and feel and look like a goddess. That is not my journey.”
Despite this award launching in 1981, it’s clear that Harvard — an institution called out in recent years for its affirmative action policies and problematic school symbols — still very much needs such awards. Queen Latifah, Salma Hayek, Viola Davis, Shakira, John Legend and Jackie Chan have also received this award. The decision was made by Harvard students and faculty members who are part of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.
The award will be presented to Knowles at the Cultural Rhythms Festival during a program on March 3.