Pharrell Hosts Forum to Discuss Future of Virginia Beach, Norfolk

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 28: Pharrell Williams, Ryan Shadwick Wilson, Managing Director for Softbank Shu Nyatta, CEO for Empowerment IP Capital Stephen Duval speak onstage for Panel 3 “Who We’ve Become” as Pharrell Williams holds forum at Norfolk State University to discuss full potential of the cities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk in his home state of Virginia at Norfolk State University on October 28, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Pharrell Williams )

Pharrell Williams hosted an event he called “Elephant in the Room” in his hometown, Virginia Beach this week to address the economic disparity and business opportunities between white and black business owners. Williams brought together business and community leaders from Virginia to discuss “who we were, who we are, and who we’d like to be.”

According to CBS17, “Williams said he wants leaders of financial institutions to communicate what would make them invest in Virginia Beach and Norfolk to help them reach their full potential. It’s an idea he came up with in the wake of the death of his cousin, Donovon Lynch.”

Williams also made it known in a letter to Virginia Beach city Manager stating he will not be holding his music festival, “Something in the Water”, in the city in 2022 noting the toxic energy in the city.

Pharell Williams also highlighted other cities’ approach to business and cultural differences saying, “The rest of the success that’s happening outside of our region is investing in cultural difference,” Williams said. “What we tend to be scared of, they are throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at.”

While he acknowledges that the topic is heavy, he knows how important it is for the community and the future businesses in Virginia Beach. “I’ve gone a little mute because it’s uncomfortable … I am a child of Virginia Beach and I bleed for Virginia Beach, I love that place and it makes me sick to my stomach,” Sadrick-Wilson said. “It’s nothing I ever learned in school and nothing I’ve never heard talked about in this community I love so much.”

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