Lena Waithe Honors Pyer Moss Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond With Powerful Speech at 2019 FNAAs

“We live our lives victoriously. We refuse to bow. We refuse to take anything less than what we are worth,” Lena Waithe said onstage at the 2019 FN Achievement Awards. The “Queen and Slim” writer was on hand to present her friend designer Kerby Jean-Raymond with the Person of the Year award.

Jean-Raymond is the founder and creative director of Pyer Moss as well as Reebok Studies’ creative director, and over the past year, he’s made a mark on the fashion industry for his focus on inclusion and authenticity.

“He is a genuine, daring and creative visionary,” she said of Jean-Raymond. “He uses his brand as a platform to challenge social narratives, evoke dialogue and address longstanding issues related to diversity and inclusion.”

In September, the designer filled 3,000 seats at Kings Theater in Brooklyn where he concluded Pyer Moss’ three-part collection series, which was created to reverse the erasure of black people’s contributions to American culture.

Kerby Jean-Raymond33rd Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards, Inside, New York, USA - 03 Dec 2019
Kerby Jean-Raymond at the 2019 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

For Waithe, who has used her own platform in the entertainment business to shine a light on the black experience, referenced her night out with Jean-Raymond on the first Monday in May. “I had the pleasure of joining Kerby at the Met Gala where we utilized our platform to pay tribute to the pioneers of camp from the LGBTQ community,” she said. “He didn’t blink twice when I said, ‘Can the back of my jacket say ‘Black Drag Queens Invented Camp?’ The back of his said, ‘Buy Back the Block.’ We were very black, and I was very gay. It was amazing.

“Kerby is my brother,” she said. “We are forever tethered. Thank you for reminding us to never forget who we are and where we come from. We are royalty. It’s in our DNA.”

Click through the gallery to see more from the 2019 Footwear News Achievement Awards.

The 33rd annual FNAA ceremony is sponsored by Klarna, Geox, The Style Room Powered by Zappos, FDRA, Micam Milano and Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky.

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