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The Reverend Al Sharpton presented Russell Simmons with the Excellence in Media Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City Saturday.
During his introduction, Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. and said that Simmons has continued the slain civil rights leader's legacy in the hip-hop community and beyond. He credited the mogul with persuading reluctant activists to see gay rights as human rights, a notable point in light of challenges such as the recent marriage equality debate in Maryland, where some African-American lawmakers rejected any connection between the gay rights and black civil rights struggles.
"You can't fight for human rights for some without fighting for the human rights and the civil rights of all," Sharpton quoted Simmons as saying.
Simmons hailed Sharpton, whom he called a mentor, for his gay rights advocacy upon receiving the award.
"Its no secret that faith-based communities in some cases have been difficult," said Simmons.