Nasir Jones, one of the most prolific and insightful rappers to ever grace a microphone, recently received an award that reflects a true testament of his rhymes and poetic nature.
The Illmatic author was honored on Wednesday, September 30 at Harvard University amongst the likes of Black elite such as Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder and boxing legend boxing legend Muhammad Ali (who couldn’t make the event) as a recipient of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. The award is the prestigious university’s highest honor in the field of African and African-American Studies.
A packed house was the scene inside Sanders Theatre at the Cambridge, Massachusetts institution and The Harvard Crimson reports that the crowd was enthusiastic the entire time out, evidenced from the “boisterous applause” that came with each break from presenters: University President Drew G. Faust, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, and Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow. Nas’ good friend Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was also in attendance.
When he received his honor, Nas spoke on how the children could be better impacted by more inspiring role models.
“These are the things the kids need to see. The real things,” the Hip-Hop vet, who just celebrated his 42nd birthday, said. “This is a light I want on me. I hope that I can be a great role model for those kids…you can be more than the typical image of rap.”
Holder even joked how taken pictures with Nas boosted his “level of coolness 1000 percent.” With the absence of Ali, the legendary MC was definitely the biggest celebrity honored with a 2015 W.E.B. Du Bois Medal but he the only distinguished honoree. Richard D. Cohen and Ethelbert J. L. Cooper received recognition for their donations to the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research; Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments; Carrie Mae Weems, a photographer and artist; Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a civil rights pioneer and journalist, were also presented with awards.
Check out Nas’ experience through photos in the gallery below.