Accepting the Breakthrough Award, Monae faced a crowd of past and present honorees to deliver a speech that celebrated service to others, invoking the late Shirley Chisholm who once said "service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth."
"We’ve birthed this nation, we helped contribute to some of the greatest, American, extraordinary things that have happened here in this nation. We have been the backbones in communities from the ghetto to Silicon Valley. We are not monolithic. We’re multi-dimensional and we have a right to have our stories told."
The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards aired on OWN on March 5.