On Saturday Beyoncé fought back tears as she accepted the Humanitarian Award at the Wearable Art Gala held in Los Angeles’ WACO Theater. The swanky gala was a family affair organized by Bey’s mom, Tina Knowles, and Richard Lawson. Beyoncé was accompanied by her husband Jay-Z and daughter Blue Ivy.
The Wearable Art Gala celebrated fine art and raised a toast to African American artists. At the event the programs most provocative and inspiring pieces were auctioned to raise money for teen mentor-ship programs. The event was packed with celebs and featured a performance by hit tv sitcom Grown-ish actresses Chloe and Halle. Other attendees included Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles, House Representative Maxine Waters, Samuel L. Jackson, Lala Anthony, Magic Johnson, Susan Taylor, Tyler Perry, Lisa Raye, Kyemah McEntyre, and AJ Johnson.
Beyoncé’s long overdue recognition was earned in part for her publicized humanitarian work with Bread of Life, the Greater Houston Community Foundation and Texas Southern University, to support displaced residents after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. But her greatest humanitarian work to-date and the most giving is the Mothers in Burundi Clean Water project with UNICEF.
Burundi is a small, landlocked East African nation of 11.2 million. It’s been slow to recover since it gained independence from Belgium in 1962. It’s classified as “low income” by the World Bank — average annual earnings are $280 per person and 77 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day. That’s the marker for extreme poverty. More than half of the population are under 18 years of age with a life expectancy rate of 44 years of age.
Beyoncé’s initiative builds nearly 1,000 water systems (including wells and boreholes) which includes upgrades to water systems at 70 schools and health-care facilities and provides educational materials on topics such as proper hand-washing techniques and the best way to clean food to avoid waterborne diseases. The initiative also reduces the distance people have to walk to get water that is safe to drink. That’s a benefit for the young people, often girls, who have to walk long distances to collect water, taking time away from schoolwork.
At the gala Beyoncé became visibly emotional while delivering her acceptance speech. Before taking to the podium, the mom of three was greeted by Hannah Brammer, a 17-year-old fan born with brittle bones who has met the singer at concerts before. Bey also got a special shout-out from former first lady Michelle Obama via a prerecorded message, which was played on screen.
The dress code of the evening was “from WACO to Wakanda,” inspired by the gorgeous setting in Black Panther, and the event featured an auction of artwork to raise money for a nonprofit art and performance complex.
At one point, Blue, who wore a custom designed gold Nefertiti wig and matching gold dress by Annakiki, completely upstaged her famous parents, bidding $17,000 on an acrylic painting of a young Sidney Poitier.
JAY-Z attempted to stop her by taking away her paddle, but it didn’t work. Blue bid even higher at $19,000.
Unfortunately, she lost out on the piece to director Tyler Perry for a cool $20,000, Vanity Fair reported. That doesn’t mean the tenacious 6-year-old left empty-handed, though. Blue bid $10,000 on another piece made of deconstructed law and medical books and took home the prize. The moment was too cute to miss and has since gone viral online.