The Oscars honored Atlanta media mogul Tyler Perry with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award Sunday night in recognition of his charity efforts.
Viola Davis presented Perry with the award and highlighted his numerous community efforts in the Georgia community, including the moment he paid for seniors’ groceries during the pandemic.
“Tyler knows what it is to be hungry, to be without a home, to feel unsafe and uncertain. So when he buys groceries for 1,000 of his neighbors, supports a women’s shelter, or quietly pays tuition for a hard-working student, Tyler is coming from a place of shared experience,” Davis said. As Perry stood on stage, he recalled a story of when he offered money to a homeless woman. She, however, asked for a pair of shoes. The woman, staring down, said, “Thank you, Jesus, my feet are off the ground,” Perry recalled.
The woman said to Perry that she thought he’d hate her. Perry said he responded: “How can I hate you when I used to be you?”
Perry continued his powerful speech and encourage people not to turn toward hate and refuse it.
“In this time, with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way — the 24-hour news cycle — it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids, and not only to remember, but just refuse hate,” the movie mogul shared.
“Don’t hate anybody. I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LGBTQ,” he continued. “I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer, I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope we would refuse hate.”
Tyler Perry accepts Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award “I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian.” pic.twitter.com/FjpTaYhKUu
— ABC News (@ABC) April 26, 2021
Perry said he dedicates his award “to anyone who wants to stand in the middle no matter what’s around the walls” because “that’s where healing happens” and where “change happens.”
“So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle to refuse hate… to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you, too,” he said.
Some past recipients of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award include Geena Davis, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Debbie Reynolds, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Quincy Jones, Arthur Hiller, Roger Mayer, Sherry Lansing, Jerry Lewis, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Harry Belafonte and more.