Nas is making history at Harvard. The hip-hop icon becomes the first rapper to receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American Studies. Looking dapper in a suit, he joined his fellow honorees including U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre on Wednesday.
During the ceremony, Nas posed with professors and students, and took the stage to share some empowering words. “These are the things the kids need to see. The real things,” he 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.”
He later tweeted, “Historic night for the rap game. At the Hutchins Center Honors for the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal ceremony. This is a first for the Rap Game to receive this award but, definitely not the last. Thank you. #HarvardHistory.”
At one point, Holder joked, “I took some pictures with Nas before I came up here. My level of coolness must have gone up 1,000 percent.”
In addition to Nas, Harvard recognized others individuals for their extraordinary contributions to African American culture including 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; and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.