NAACP Image Awards Shines Brightly

Taraji P. Henson celebrates her NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Photo Credit: Carmen Williams

Some of the biggest names in film, television and music came out and made appearances at the 43rd NAACP Image Awards, which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.  Some of the stars to show up for the two-hour live telecast event put on by NBC, included LL Cool J, Paula Patton, Cuba Gooding Jr.,Vanessa Williams, Jordin Sparks, Russell Hornsby, Keke Palmer, Corey Reynolds, Judge Greg Mathis, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Potier.

Also attending were Holly Robinson Peete, Regina King, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Archie Panjabi and Hill Harper. Jennifer Hudson, Lenny Kravitz, Jill Scott, Kirk Franklin and Ne-Yo lit up this year’s show with stellar performances.

But the evening clearly belonged to the memory of singing legend Whitney Houston. In light of the unexpected and tragic passing of pop superstar Whitney Houston, NAACP officials came up with a way to honor the fallen star with a moving tribute that was performed by Yolanda Adams.

Among some of the biggest highlights of the evening was “Red Tails” producer George Lucas receiving the NAACP Vanguard Award. Lucas, the man behind the legendary “Star Wars” saga, was chiefly responsible for putting out “Red Tails,” a film that depicts the accomplishments of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen.

The Vanguard Award is presented to a person whose groundbreaking work increases understanding and awareness of racial and social issues.  Previous honorees include Wyclef Jean, Tyler Perry, Russell Simmons, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Stanley Kramer and Steven Spielberg.

Lucas’ devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting-edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films of all time.  The creator of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” Lucas has given birth to characters who have entertained and inspired generations of filmgoers and become bedrocks of worldwide popular culture.

Regina King is all smiles after picking up her NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (Southland). Photo Credit: Carmen Williams

Lucas has directed or produced such memorable films as “THX 1138,” “American Graffiti,” “Willow,” and “Tucker: A Man and His Dream.”  His independent production company, Lucasfilm Ltd., has garnered over 100 Academy Award nominations and more than 40 Oscars and special achievement awards. Today, Lucas is executive producer of the popular animated television series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and he served as executive producer on “Red Tails,” a new film inspired by the historic and heroic exploits of America’s first all-black aerial combat unit.

Radio One/TV One Founder Cathy Hughes received the NAACP Chairman’s Award and The Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association received the NAACP President’s Award.

The NAACP Image Awards is the premier multicultural awards show. It celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors. Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

The NAACP Image Awards has been a celebratory extension of the organization’s mission over the last four decades. This year’s show, which was hosted by Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie, also paid tribute to the founding members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association with a special honor.

The Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association received the NAACP President’s Award.  The NAACP President’s Award, chosen by NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.

Past honorees include President Bill Clinton, Soledad O’Brien, Ruby Dee, Muhammad Ali, and most recently, Van Jones.

“I am proud to honor the men and women of the Black Stuntmen’s Association with the NAACP President’s Award,” said Jealous. “The efforts of these pioneers helped to chip away at the racial barriers that divided not only stuntmen, but the entire entertainment/media industry.”

Founded in 1967, the Black Stuntmen’s Association was created to combat practices that denied black stuntmen the opportunity to perform in Hollywood productions.  Prior to their advocacy and activism, stunts for black actors were done by white performers “painted down” to a darker complexion.

The organization filed lawsuits against several major movie studios to help bring an end to the discriminatory practice and to ensure equal opportunity and access to the stunt roles for all races.

Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association went on to redefine the profession, performing in iconic films and television programs such as “Dirty Harry,” “I Spy,” “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Buck and the Preacher.”

Last year at the NAACP 102nd Annual Convention in Los Angeles, representatives of the Black Stuntmen’s Association participated in a panel discussion about the intersection of entertainment professionals and activism. (Watch the panel at

The Smithsonian Institute is currently planning to curate an exhibit to honor the Coalition and the Black Stuntmen’s Association in Washington, D.C.












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