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Sheryl Lee Ralph Bursts Into Song as She’s Honored for 30 Years of AIDS Activism

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Sheryl Lee Ralph is making a habit of breaking into song during acceptance speeches and getting standing ovations! The Abbott Elementary star attended the Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS at West Hollywood Park on Thursday night, where she was honored with the Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award, fresh off her historic Emmys win.

Ralph turned up at the fundraising gala accompanied by her two children and Abbott co-star, Lisa Ann Walter. The 65-year-old accepted the award for her 30 years of activist work in fighting the AIDS epidemic through her DIVA Foundation, which mounted the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS and health awareness benefit concerts in the United States.

When she made her way onstage, Ralph broke out into song, singing “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves, which she previously sang during her Emmys acceptance speech to thunderous applause.

“The truths are not easy and 40 years later people want to act like it didn’t happen, but it did happen. It was horrible. It was ugly, and it was America. And it spread to the rest of the world,” Ralph said while accepting her award onstage. “And when you used your voice to speak up, people wanted to tell you, ‘You need to shut up.’ Nobody wants to hear about that, even those who were infected told you, ‘This is not your fight, stop it, you will make it worse for us,’ and because some people did not use their voice, did not speak up, were silent, it has become, and still is, horrible for all of us.”

“Forty years later, AIDS in America is still here. Raise your voice, do the work, decriminalize it, and open up your heart and your minds to people who do not look like you,” she concluded her speech.

Colin Farrell and Charlize Theron were also honored for their tireless work in ending the AIDS epidemic, with guests including Paris Jackson, Jennifer Tilly and Alexandra Shipp.

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation was founded by the late actress in 1991 to raise funds and awareness to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. The foundation works to provide the direct care needed for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS and ensure that HIV prevention education and access to treatment are available through domestic and international initiatives.

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