Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, who is pictured above, bestowing Pharrell Williams with an honorary doctorate after he gave the commencement speech on Dec. 11 in Norfolk, Va. In remarks made Jan. 17, during the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards program, singer and music producer Williams challenged corporate America to “do more” by supporting entrepreneurs of color and adopting economic equity measures. (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)

By Associated Press

Singer and music producer Pharrell Williams is challenging corporate America to “do more” by supporting entrepreneurs of color and adopting economic equity measures.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that in remarks during the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards program, Williams said big businesses need to invest in people of color and noted that some of them already are.

“Not all businesses,” Williams added. “The smart ones, the ones that will be here in 50 years.”

Williams singled out the Japanese financial and venture capital group SoftBank. He said the group was investing in founders of color, who could then create generational wealth and change their cities for the better.

Williams, who was born in Virginia Beach, also urged businesses and philanthropists to support the Urban League and thanked the local chapter for their work in financial wellness, health and housing.

The event, which could not be held in person because of COVID-19, was live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Several local leaders were honored for representing King’s legacy of social justice.

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