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Mika Brzezinski, Stacey Abrams, Alicia Keys honored at women’s empowerment event

The awards ceremony was part of the National Action Network’s annual convention in New York City.?
Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski
Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski was honored Thursday at the National Action Network’s annual “Women’s Empowerment Luncheon” in New York City.Taylor Dieng / MSNBC

Female luminaries including Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski, Planned Parenthood founder Alexis McGill Johnson, political leader and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and singer Alicia Keys were honored Thursday at the National Action Network’s annual “Women’s Empowerment Luncheon” in New York City.

Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization, said the purpose of the luncheon was not to celebrate women’s past achievements but also a call to action for future generations.

Upon presenting Brzezinski with her award, Sharpton said, “This woman has made it clear, globally, the worth and value of women. No one has brought to the center stage of the global conversation, how women have been devalued, and raise them up … She is a real example of women that have discovered that excellence and refuse to lead the world denying it in any way, shape, or form. And she walks with that and owns that every day.”

Brzezinski explained to the audience that her women’s empowerment platform, Know Your Value, was an extension of her ?2011 book of the same name. And what started as one live event in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2014 to help women communicate their value effectively, turned into a movement with events in the U.S. and beyond.

?“When it comes to advocating for ourselves, and this is what I was realizing 15 years ago, it has renewed purpose today,” said Brzezinski.

She continued: “…We take care of our children, our parents, our everybody. We do it all. And yet, we don’t ask for more. It’s not built in. That didn’t sit right with me. In fact, in some ways, I think women still feel like [they can’t] speak about money. They feel shame. Can you imagine? It doesn’t make any sense, right? And now with our rights, and our access to health care being ripped from us, 50 years of rights, this passion of mine — it’s really for all of us.”

Brzezinski said she wanted to accept her award on behalf of “women who are staying in the game, whether they are 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, showing everyone you have time, you have the power, and you have the voice to do anything in your dreams.”

Two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was also honored at the event.

Stacey Abrams is honored at National Action Network's "Women Empowerment Luncheon"
Stacey Abrams is honored at National Action Network's "Women's Empowerment Luncheon" in New York City on Thursday.Taylor Dieng / MSNBC

Leading up to the 2020 presidential campaign, Abrams was a major force behind a large voter registration effort in Georgia, which helped grow the African-American vote by?half a million?people. Her effort to engage communities of color (particularly Black voters and young people) in the electoral process has since been?lauded as a strong factor?in flipping Georgia’s Senate to Democratic control, in addition to helping Joe Biden’s ascension into the White House.

“We are in a moment where representation and identity are under threat because we are not respected,” Abrams said upon accepting her award. “And so every time you hear the term DEI thrown as an epithet, we need to reclaim it as a celebration of who we are. I am here to remind you who we are.”

Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys, who brought her music to Broadway in a new semi-autobiographical show “Hell’s Kitchen” was also honored at the luncheon. ?

“I’m so grateful to be surrounded by powerful women, and I think that’s exactly one of the secrets of the sauce is making sure that powerful women are uplifted and we are at the table,” said Keys.

Alicia Keys is honored at National Action Network's "Women Empowerment Luncheon"
Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys, who brought her music to Broadway in a new semi-autobiographical show “Hell’s Kitchen” was also honored at the luncheon.Taylor Dieng / MSNBC

Other honorees Sharpton recognized included Lisa Price, founder of the beauty brand Carol’s Daughter, Michelle Stoddart of Resorts World New York City and Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter of the Church of God in Christ.

“Black women have long been the backbone of our communities, driving change and progress despite facing immense challenges,” said Rev. Sharpton. “The Women’s Empowerment Luncheon is not only a celebration of past achievements but also a call to action for future generations. It is a reminder of the importance of empowering Black women, supporting their endeavors, and amplifying their voices in a society where they have to work twice as hard to be half as good.”

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