Atlanta rapper 21 Savage, detained this year after allegedly overstaying a visa in the United States, was honored by a national immigrants’ rights organization Thursday.
The platinum-selling artist, whose real name is She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, received the Courageous Luminaries Award from the National Immigration Law Center. Since he was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in February, the rapper has become an outspoken advocate for immigration reform.
He was arrested Feb. 3 after it was revealed he is actually from the United Kingdom and was brought to the U.S. when he was a child. ICE officials said he overstayed his visa.
At the event and award ceremony Thursday night, 21 Savage gave a speech in support of young people who come to the country at a young age. He told the Associated Press that he believes immigrants like him who lived in America as children should automatically become citizens.
He recently donated $25,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center with the goal of ensuring that immigrants in detention centers in the south have access to legal representation.
“21 Savage’s story is a powerful reminder of our deeply flawed immigration system,” Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the NILC, said in a statement. “We are committed to fighting for the rights of immigrants and we’re thrilled to honor 21 Savage for standing with us in this fight against this administration’s ongoing attack on immigrant communities.”
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, presented the rapper with the award.
21 Savage calls DeKalb County home, and is known for his local financial literacy programs and annual back-to-school giveaways.
“It’s important to give back, because these same people support me, so I support them,” told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at this year’s “Issa Back 2 School Drive” in DeKalb.
The rapper said growing up in Atlanta was an integral part of his life, and he wishes the case with ICE was “fake.”
“I wish these bullet holes go away, too, but it’s where I’m from,” he told the AJC.
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