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Solange Knowles Wins Lena Horne Prize at Salesforce-Sponsored Event

The Lena Horne Prize was awarded Friday in New York City to Solange Knowles, honoring her and other artists who use their platforms to create social impact. The awards gala, sponsored by Salesforce, was the culmination of a three-day celebration with panels, workshops, and a focus on inspiring others to follow in the footsteps of the late Horne, a singer, actress, and civil rights activist, and become the next generation of change-makers.

“One of the things I’m really excited about in my job is I get to highlight agents of change, people who use their platform to drive change,” Cristina Jones, SVP of Customer Marketing, Brand Partnerships, and C-Suite Engagement at Salesforce, said on a panel Wednesday. “That’s why we launched a program called ‘Make Change.’ It’s about calls to action. It’s a bummer when we all sit around and talk about how things are hard, but then there’s no real call to action. What can we do to change the stuff that’s happening?”

Solange Knowles won the Lena Horne Prize.

What Knowles is doing was evidenced by her decision to gift the entirety of her $100,000 award to Project Row Houses, a non-profit organization in her hometown of Houston that shows how the combination of art, activism, and neighborhood development can support the transformation of an entire community.

In addition to Knowles, the awards ceremony Friday at the historic Town Hall venue featured artists, activists, and entertainers such as Common, Dolores Huerta, Leon Bridges, Andra Day, Martin Luther King III, and Tamron Hall.

Salesforce’s Cristina Jones spoke at the event.

“I want to acknowledge Salesforce, this evening’s presenting sponsor, because they are always willing to support where it counts,” Hall said. “Salesforce is a company who lifts up people who use their platform to spark change, like the exemplary Lena Horne.”

For Jones, the week’s celebration was a chance to urge the next generation of leaders to dream big and become change-makers of their own.

“One thing I hope you take away from today is you have the opportunity to be the architect of your own story,” she told Wednesday’s audience that was comprised of students from all five New York City boroughs. “There’s no traditional story where I end up in the type of job I have – sitting up here in front of you – except that I was not okay with filling in the blanks of the stories that people wanted to tell about me.”

“Whatever background you have, however you got to where you are today is not the whole story. That’s just part of your story,” she added. “You still have the opportunity to design the rest of it.”


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