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Social Justice Emphasized at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards

“This is the one place where they can’t stop Black people from voting,” said three-time Golden Globe nominee and host of the show Anthony Anderson in his opening statements at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards. He also praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who on February 25, became the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

The NAACP Image Awards recognized the achievements and performances of Black people in different categories including Best Picture, which went to Netflix’s The Harder They Fall.

Golden Globe winner Jennifer Hudson won the top category of Entertainer of the Year.

Golden Globe winners Daniel Kaluuya, Regina King, Angela Bassett and others took home acting awards during the night. Kaluuya won Best Supporting Aactor in a Motion Picture for his role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, while King took home the Best Actress award in the same category for playing Trudy Smith in The Harder They Fall. Angela Bassett won Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role in 9-1-1.

Ava DuVernay‘s Colin in Black & White received the award for Best TV Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special, while Queen Sugar won for Drama Series.

In film, Golden Globe nominee, CODA, took the award for Independent Film, Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power won Best Documentary and Golden Globe winner Encanto received the award for Animated Feature.

Actress Kerry Washington presented the Social Justice Award to Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The 1619 Project, which Washington described as “elucidating the absolute centrality of Black history in American history.” The two-time Golden Globe-nominated actress also praised the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University’s School of Communications for “championing and elevating our history and the spectacular truth of our stories in this shared land.”

“This award is not really about me,” Hannah-Jones said in her acceptance speech. “As of today, some 36 states have passed or are considering bills to make it harder to teach racism and inequality. Politicians are using the power of the state to whitewash an already whitewashed history. Books and ideas about the history of African Americans and the LGBTQ community are being banned. These anti-history laws go hand in hand with regressive policies that seek to restrict our civil and voting rights. A healthy society does not ban ideas, and attacks on books are an attack on democracy.”

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, presented the President’s Award to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for their commitment to public service. The couple’s nonprofit organization, Archewell, has partnered with the NAACP to create the Oswell Digital Civil Rights Award, to be given annually to “leaders creating transformative change at the intersection of social justice and technology.” Dr. Sophia Noble, co-founder of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Research, was presented with the first award.

Leon W. Russel, chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, presented this year’s Chairman Award to Samuel L. Jackson in a pre-recorded video from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which is the first monument dedicated to the legacy of enslaved blacks and lynching victims. Also appearing remotely were Questlove at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Simu Liu at Black Star Collectibles, a black-owned comic bookstore in Los Angeles.

During the Zoom interviews with the winners following the show, Bassett said, “I feel blessed by the great team we have on our series (9-1-1) whether it’s with the writers, directors and us audience-facing folks. In my creative process, I can bring in and bring ideas that we’ve seen on screen, and that only happens when you create a functional chemistry, and it’s because of that, we are one of the most successful shows on television.” Bassett serves as the show’s executive producer and is the highest-paid Black actress in the business.

Backstage, Jackson addressed one of the most urgent subjects in the news. “We can put our legs, our bodies, and our voices to work to make sure people get out to vote…no matter what they do to keep us from doing it, and I hope you all do. And maybe one day, somebody will end up getting one of these [awards] because you’ve used your legs, your voice, and your body.”


Entertainer of the Year

Jennifer Hudson (WINNER)

Lil Nas X

Megan Thee Stallion

Regina King

Tiffany Haddish


Outstanding Motion Picture

The Harder They Fall (Netflix) (WINNER)

Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros. Pictures)

King Richard (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Respect (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu Original / New Slate Ventures / Lee Daniels Entertainment / Roth-Kirschenbaum Films)


Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Will Smith – King Richard (Warner Bros. Pictures) (WINNER)

Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple TV+ / A24)

Jonathan Majors – The Harder They Fall (Netflix)

LaKeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mahershala Ali – Swan Song (Apple TV+)


Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Jennifer Hudson – Respect (Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United Artists Releasing) (WINNER)

Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu Original / New Slate Ventures / Lee Daniels Entertainment / Roth-Kirschenbaum Films)

Halle Berry – Bruised (Netflix)

Tessa Thompson – Passing (Netflix)

Zendaya – Malcolm & Marie (Netflix)


Outstanding Comedy Series

Insecure (HBO) (WINNER)

Black-ish (ABC)

Harlem (Amazon Studios)

Run the World (Starz)

The Upshaws (Netflix)


Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish (ABC) (WINNER)

Cedric the Entertainer – The Neighborhood (CBS)

Don Cheadle – Black Monday (Showtime)

Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams – The Wonder Years (ABC)

Jay Ellis – Insecure (HBO)


Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

Issa Rae – Insecure (HBO) (WINNER)

Loretta Devine – Family Reunion (Netflix)

Regina Hall – Black Monday (Showtime)

Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish (ABC)

Yvonne Orji – Insecure (HBO)


Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC) (WINNER)

Billy Porter – Pose (FX Network)

Damson Idris – Snowfall (FX Network)

Forest Whitaker – Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)

Kofi Siriboe – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)


Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (FOX) (WINNER)

Dawn-Lyen Gardner – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Octavia Spencer – Truth Be Told (Apple TV+)

Queen Latifah – The Equalizer (CBS)

Rutina Wesley – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)


Social Media Personality of the Year

@Laronhinesofficial – Laron Hines (WINNER)

@Euniquejg – Eunique Jones GIbson

@KevOnStage – Kevin Fredericks

@_Lyneezy – Lanae Vanee

@Terrellgrice – Terrell Grice


It should be recalled that recently The NAACP and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced a five-year collaborative partnership, joining forces in an effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the global entertainment industry.


Each year, the HFPA and the NAACP Hollywood Office will collaborate, fund and support a number of groundbreaking initiatives, with the overall goals of ensuring visibility for projects by artists of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, increasing diversity representation in the industry and creating avenues of inclusion for young artists and journalists of color.