Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union were the recipients of the President’s Award during the 2023 NAACP Image Awards …
Union and Wade received the prestigious President’s Award at the ceremony for their work supporting children, women’s rights, and LGBTQIA youth. The President’s Award honors individuals for their exceptional achievement and public service.
The couple became well-known personalities as advocates for the LGBTQ+ community when they presented their daughter, Zaya Wade, to the world in February 2020 with a moving video starring Wade and then-12-year-old Zaya on a golf cart together, speaking about being true to oneself.
Along with Wade’s 20-year-old son, Zaire, 15-year-old daughter, Zaya, and 8-year-old son, Xavier, Union and Wade are parents to Kaavia, a 4-year-old daughter.
In their acceptance speech, Dwyane Wade highlighted how the couple has been privileged regarding access to resources and opportunities. He recognized that it is their job to uplift the voices of others and share their access and resources.
Wade said, “We don’t stand up here alone. As we know, it takes a village; it takes community. We stand up here today as two people who have worked tirelessly to have resources and access. As two people willing to use our microphones for what we believe and what other families are going through.”
He spoke to Zaya personally, expressing his admiration for how she handled the public scrutiny with grace and dignity. Wade said, “I want to take this moment to publicly speak to our daughter Zaya. Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I have sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I’ve watched you walk out of the house every morning as yourself.”
The proud dad continued, “I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement. Thank you for showing me that there is more than just one way to communicate. You’ve taught me that communicating with my mouth isn’t enough. I have to communicate with my ears and my two eyes.”
Wade elaborated, “As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your wishes, your hopes, and your dreams. Zaya, you’ve made me a better human by simply being who you were born to be: our baby girl, Zaya Wade. Thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I am proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father.”
Gabrielle Union stepped in and praised the NAACP for leading black people “through over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph, and change.”
She praised the organization that “now stands with us again at the foot of a very new era of activism. A new era that demands a collective answer to one simple question. Will we fight for some, or will we fight for all of our people?”
The 50-year-old “10 Things I Hate About You” actress also highlighted “the intersection of black rights and the rights of LGBTQIA, trans, and gender non-conforming people,” which “continues to be rough.”
She continued, “Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to some of the most vulnerable among us. And second, black trans people are being terrorized, targeted, and hunted in this country every day. And there’s rarely a whisper about it.”