International advocacy organization Global Citizen recently honored the winners of the 2020 Global Citizen Prize. Bryan Stevenson, Sir Elton John, LifeBank Global CEO Temie Giwa-Tubosun, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Warren Buffett, Sesame Workshop and the Co-Founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement were recognized for their efforts in shaping the world we want and doing pivotal work to help end extreme poverty.
John Legend served as host of the event, which featured presenters John Oliver, Katie Couric, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Scott Evans and Usher.
The awards also featured musical performances from Alessia Cara, Carrie Underwood, Common, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, JoJo and Tori Kelly.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
The broadcast special premiered on Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 8:00 P.M. ET on NBC in the United States and CTV in Canada. The Global Citizen Prize will re-air on MSNBC on Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 10:00 P.M. ET, with a second airing at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Bryan Stevenson was awarded the Global Citizen of the Year Prize, which celebrates an individual who has proven exceptional and sustained impact toward the end of extreme poverty and its systemic causes. As Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Stevenson has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.
Accepting the award in conversation with Usher, Stevenson said, “I’m so honored by this award and this recognition on behalf of everybody at the Equal Justice Initiative who have been fighting this fight for a long time…All of us have to find ways to get closer to people who are experiencing inequality and injustice. We will never prevail in changing the world if we only do the things that are comfortable and convenient.”
Sir Elton John was awarded the Global Citizen Artist of the Year Prize, which honors a creative individual or group using their platform and their work to create change not only through conversation but meaningful impact. A singer, songwriter, philanthropist, and composer, John also tirelessly works to end the AIDS epidemic through the Elton John AIDS Foundation and most recently was a leader in raising vital funds for the global COVID-19 response.
Sir Elton John said, “I didn’t really do enough as a gay man – I should have been there with ACT UP, I should have marched, I should have been much more political than I was. So many of my friends died, so many of my friends still have HIV/AIDS, and when I got sober in 1990 I realized I wanted to make a difference, not just for gay people but for everybody… Our motto is nobody gets left behind…I’m extremely grateful for this accolade. I’m so grateful people know about the Elton John AIDS Foundation and consider it a wonderful organization, but it reminds me of all the work left to do.”
In addition, the Global Citizen Prize introduced three awards, selected by Global Citizen and a team of advisors to recognize individuals or organizations who have demonstrated exceptional impact over the preceding year, creating positive change and inspiring others through compassion, innovation and unwavering dedication in their respective fields.
Warren Buffett was awarded the Global Citizen Prize for Philanthropy, honoring a philanthropist, or philanthropic group, who has shown extraordinary leadership, stepping forward to accelerate their giving in support of the world’s biggest challenges and in pursuit of achieving the United Nations Global Goals. Historically the most giving person in the world, Buffett has vowed to gradually give more than 99 percent of his wealth to philanthropic foundations and announced earlier this year that he donated another $2.9 billion worth of stock to nonprofit groups.
Sesame Workshop was awarded the Global Citizen Prize for Culture & Education, honoring an individual or organization who has excelled in creating positive change through an artistic or educational endeavor. The nonprofit Sesame Workshop has a storied history of bringing critical early childhood education to children in over 150 countries through the power of media and the Sesame Street Muppets and tackling the toughest issues facing children, like HIV/AIDS, family homelessness, autism, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic, in ways that children not only can understand, but that also help them to grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Elmo accepted the award in conversation with John Oliver, and Alessia Cara also joined in song with Sesame Street Muppets from around the world.
The Black Lives Matter movement, represented by Co-Founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, was awarded the Global Citizen Prize for Activism, which honors an organization or individuals whose activism has driven significant and exemplary impact for society, at a local or global level. The Black Lives Matter movement has been awarded with the Prize for Activism, due to the powerful impact that it has had on combating anti-Black racism. The Black Lives Matter movement has also confronted socio-economic challenges that disproportionately impact disenfranchised communities and communities of color. The movement has promoted equity, enlightenment and inclusion, elevated the collective conscience of people, and BLM Co-Founders have excelled in their ability to unite people across the country and around the world.
Accepting the award during a powerful performance of Academy Award-winning song Glory with John Legend and Common, Cullors, Garza, and Tometi said, “Hashtags don’t start movements, people do, through awareness, activism, and allyship. What started as three words on social media has become the largest movement in U.S. history, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Together, we are creating a better tomorrow. By continuing the tradition of resistance, standing up for what’s right, loving each other, and demanding change, we can manifest a reality where Black lives are valued, Black lives are respected, and Black Lives Matter.”
WATCH JOHN LEGEND AND COMMON PERFORM “GLORY”