Dolly Parton was jokingly uncharitable after the crowd at the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy ceremony tried to sing along during her acceptance speech.
“It was terrible,” the Grammy-winning country superstar said after she quietly sang Books, Books, the song she wrote in support of her Imagination Library initiative.
This philanthropic program, which gives children under five a free book each month, was one of the reasons she was among this year’s class of recipients of the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, as well as her donation to the 2020 coronavirus vaccine research that helped develop the modern Vaccine.
“I am very proud and honored to be part of all that is going to make the world a better place,” Parton said, adding that she was delighted to be celebrated with Dallas entrepreneur Lyda Hill, Kenyan industrialist Manu Chandaria and Lynn and Stacy Schusterman, of the Oklahoma Investment Family.
The ceremony at Gotham Hall in New York celebrated the 20th anniversary of the award, which was established in 2001 as the Nobel Prize in Philanthropy.
To mark the milestone, which was postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Carnegie Institutions launched the Carnegie Catalyst Prize to “celebrate the transformative power of human kindness”.
The prize was awarded to World Central Kitchen, the anti-hunger association founded by chef Jose Andres.
Stacy Schusterman, president of Schusterman Family Philanthropies, said she was proud to accept the award along with her mother, Lynn, as the first mother-daughter team to be honored in the history of the award.
However, she said there was also an urgent need for philanthropy to be more collaborative and more challenging to improve society.
“America was founded with ideals we have yet to realize,” she said in her acceptance speech. “When we say, ‘All men are created equal,’ it is clear that ‘men’ does not yet mean all Americans, including women, gender-broad people, and all ethnicities, races, and religions.”
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation was established in 1987 to invest in systemic change in the United States and Israel for justice and equity.
When Charles died in 2000, Lynn Schusterman took over the foundation, expanding its work and becoming a strong advocate for inclusion, especially for the LGBTQ community. In 2018, their daughter Stacy Schusterman took over the foundation, which last year changed its name to Schusterman Family Philanthropies.