By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Contributor
The 53rd Annual NAACP Image Awards, which were held in person this year on February 26 at the Pasadena Civic Center, honor African Americans in entertainment and culture.
Established in 1909, the NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. and was formed by W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells.
Jennifer Hudson won for Entertainer of the Year and outstanding actress for her portrayal of legendary singer Aretha Franklin in “Respect.” Outstanding Actor was won by Will Smith in “King Richard” and Daniel Kaluuya of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” who won for outstanding supporting actor.
The President’s award, given in recognition of special achievement in public service, was awarded to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
But a special moment arrived in the ceremony as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine was awarded the Social Justice Impact Award.
Hannah-Jones, creator of “The 1619 Project,” told the audience, “As a student of history, I know that the work that I do and the life I live would not be possible without the decades-long efforts of the NAACP to force this country to live up to its highest ideals. I decided to use my pen as my weapon to fight. I’m grateful for the community that built me… But this award is not really about me. I’m being recognized for The 1619 Project.”
“As of now, some 36 states have passed or are considering bills to make it harder to teach about racism and inequality. Politicians are using the power of the state to whitewash an already whitewashed history. Books and ideas about the Black experience, about the LGBTQ community, are being banned. These anti-history laws go hand in hand with regressive policies that aim to restrict our civil and voting rights. A healthy society does not ban ideas, and attacks on books are an attack on democracy,” Hannah-Jones added.
Hannah-Jones was referring to the recent Republican focus on stopping programs that attempt to promote “equity’ and/or discussions on the historic impact of 400 years of anti-Black polices has gripped the GOP in many red states.
Hannah-Jones’s book “The 1619 Project” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke