The 52nd NAACP Image Awards took a different turn this year. One of the most popular awards show celebrating black excellence, there were five nights of non-televised ceremonies during which the major categories were awarded.
The show, which aired live Saturday on BET, was hosted by Anthony Anderson, an award winner himself, from a Los Angeles studio.
Meanwhile, all nominees and winners made appearances remotely via video, while presenters announced winners from locations in L.A., New York, and Atlanta that have historic or cultural significance to the Black community.
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Here are some of our best moments:
1. Issa Rae won the prize for outstanding comedy series for the first time, taking over from the ever-bubbly Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross. Rae humorously thanked Ross “for losing”, adding that the NAACP nod means the world to her. “It means the world to me. It’s the only validation that matters, black people’s validation.” Her show, Insecure, also took home the Outstanding comedy series, snatching it from fan favorites Black-ish.
2. Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page took home his first NAACP as well for best actor in a drama series and shared his thoughts on the power of representation in his acceptance speech.
“You’re representing the political climate around you. You are representing the people who live through the world that we all share, and your aid in reflecting it and showing it either as it is or as it could be. And that is integral to how we all navigate the world together, how we kind of play as a team in the real world.”
3. Beyonce swept the most awards in the music category with four NAACP Image Awards. The ‘Savage’ remix saw her sharing two of the awards with Megan Thee Stallion.
Then she won the outstanding music video award for “Brown Skin Girl”, sharing that award with her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, SAINt JHN, and Nigeria’s Wizkid. It was no surprise she carried home the outstanding female artiste for Black Parade.
4. Chadwick Boseman carried two posthumous awards. For his role in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Blood, he won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
His widow Simone Ledward Boseman accepted the awards on his behalf and advised that Black people should take care of themselves better because colon cancer, which killed her husband, affects Black people more and can be prevented at an early stage.
5. The first-ever Social Justice Impact award went to Stacey Abrams. Michelle Obama presented the award, praising Abrams for knowing that “organizing on the ground is the best way to crack a ceiling.” Abrams, in her acceptance speech via video, recalled how her parents raised her “to see the challenges in our world as opportunities to act.”
6. Lebron James took home the coveted President’s Award for his achievements on and off-court. His ‘More than A Vote’ campaign during the 2020 elections among his entrepreneurial and philanthropic acts earned him the award.
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson presented the award thanking him for “not shutting up and just dribbling.”
“LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes of his generation, and through his work both on and off the court, has transcended beyond sports to become a cultural icon.”
“LeBron epitomizes the type of leadership, sportsmanship, and commitment to social justice that we seek to highlight with our President’s Award,” Johnson added before presenting the award.
7. Eddie Murphy got inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame. Murphy, who has been on our screens for four decades, accepted the award virtually.
8. Rev. James Lawson from Ebenezer Baptist Church was given this year’s Chairman’s Award previously won by the likes of Tyler Perry, John Lewis, and Obama. Per Hollywood Reporter, Lawson was honored for his work as a social change advocate and his participation in nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement in the ’60s.
“In this pivotal moment for Black history, there is no better time to recognize Rev. Lawson’s tremendous contributions to American history and to live up to his example,” NAACP chairman Leon W. Russell said in a statement announcing Lawson’s honor.
Viewers can watch the awards by visiting NAACPimageawards.net and clicking “Join The Virtual Experience Now” to watch the non-televised awards.