Celebrating Black Excellence: Top Moments From The 52nd Annual NAACP Awards

Saturday night was the 52nd NAACP Awards, where Black excellence was honored and highlighted.

Hosted by comedian Anthony Anderson, the star-studded night was filled with awards, performances, and activism – honoring the Black lives lost to injustice in 2020 and making a call for change.

And while it highlighted hardships in the Black community, the night also celebrated its wins.

Big Winners

Viola Davis took home two awards – Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away With Murder and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. After accidentally curving her husband’s kiss when she won her first award, she made sure to show him love the second time around. Anthony Anderson told her, “Your husband went in to give you a kiss and you shook him!”  Viola honored her late co-star in her speech, saying, “To the beautiful Chadwick Boseman: I love you, Chad.”

Actor Rege-Jean Page took home the award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role in Bridgerton. “It is the highest honor to represent us in the fullness of our humanity, in our beauty, of our joy, of our glamour, of our splendor, of our royalty, of our romance, of our love,” he said.  “It is the highest honor to represent that and to represent the people that I do represent. I will do my absolute best to be worthy of that.”

Other big winners of the night were Issa Rae, who won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for Insecure. Marsai Martin won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for black-ish,  and DJ D-Nice took home Entertainer of the Year.

LeBron James was honored with the President’s Award. “First of all, I wish I could be standing to accept this award, but the doctor told me I need to keep the weight off of my ankle,” he said virtually. “I appreciate all the well wishes, and to my injury, I’ll be back soon.”

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris 

The President and VP kicked off the night with a speech. Biden said, “Black culture is American culture. Black history is American history. And Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America.”

Kamala Harris – the first Black and female Vice President – said, “NAACP has led the way, all the way, fighting for justice, ensuring the well-being of Black communities, providing grants to Black entrepreneurs, and advocating for Black students. I thank you,”

She went on to give a message of hope to the Black community and said there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have surpassed 100 million shots in arms,” she said. “We have sent out more than 100 million checks, and we are making historic investments in schools, small businesses, and Black communities across the country. And still, there is so much more to be done. So tonight, let us celebrate, and tomorrow, let’s get back to work.”

Michelle Obama Presents Stacey Abrams With Social Justice Impact Award 

Stacey Abrams took home the Social Justice Impact Award.

The award was presented by former First Last Lady Michelle Obama, who said, “organizing on the ground is the best way to crack a ceiling.”

Abrams said in her acceptance speech, “They taught me and my five siblings that having nothing was not an excuse for doing nothing. Instead, they showed us by word and deed to use our faith as a shield to protect the defenseless, to use our voices to call out injustices, and to use our education and our time to solve the problems that others turn away from.”

“I stand beside the organizers and activists who refused to allow the stubborn realities of systemic injustice to stop them from protesting in the streets, at the ballot boxes, and in the halls of power. I share this award with all those who champion progress, equity, and the truth of who we are and who we must become as a nation.”

Chadwick Boseman Posthumously Honored 

The late actor Chadwick Boseman won Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Da 5 Bloods. Boseman died last year after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

His wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, tearily accepted the award on behalf of her late husband.

“As always, he would give all honor and glory to the most high God,” she said. “He would thank his mom and dad. And he would give honor to his ancestors as we now honor him. Thank you, NAACP, for always giving him his flowers. He was an uncommon artist and an even more uncommon person.”

She also made a point to urge everyone, especially the Black community, to get screened for colon cancer and highlighted the racial disparities in healthcare.

“Black people in this country are 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer, and 40 percent more likely to die from it,” she said. “You are so needed, and you are so loved. Please take your health into your own hands.”

Performances 

Jazmin Sullivan shined in her performance of  Pick Up Your Feelings from her new album.

Maxwell threw it back with his hit Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder) from the 90s as he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut album Urban Hang Suite.

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