Photos by A. Shurtleff. There must be something in the water in Virginia, Pharrell Williams said at the University of Virginia on Friday — and UVA graduates, whether born and bred or transplants, have an obligation to use their talents to help others. “Virginia has continued to produce icons, and I know that there are a bunch of future icons in this room waiting to reveal yourself,” he said in a fiery Valedictory Exercises address at John Paul Jones Arena.
“But my deep love for Virginia and for its people does not blind me to the fact that there is also troubled water here. In fact, my love for Virginia heightens my awareness that Virginia has a complicated history, a history that continues to shape the present.” Williams is a producer, songwriter and philanthropist who was born in Virginia Beach and performed at the Concert for Charlottesville in 2017. He spoke about challenges endemic to Virginia since its founding, and challenged graduates of the Class of 2019 to fight oppression wherever it is found.
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