41st Annual NAACP Image Award

Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana in the “Princess and the Frog,” and Renaissance Man, actor, author, motivational speaker Hill Harper hosted the 41st NAACP Image Awards broadcast live on Fox’ Channel  5, Friday night.

The award show which was first presented in 1970 continues to celebrate the outstanding performances and achievements of people of color and this year’s theme was One Nation – One Dream.  The website proclaims “the NAACP Image Awards is the nation’s premier event celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (motion picture, television, recording, and literature), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.”

Some of the highlights were; Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean, Tabou Combo, the original ambassadors of Haitian music opening the night’s presentations.  Sandra Bullock’s consternation at being mistaken for the Pretty Woman star (running joke).  Clarence Avant receiving Hall of Fame Award.

“Good Hair” won Outstanding Documentary award for Chris Rock who said, “I made this movie just for black people. I wanted the blackest movie of all time.  This is for black women, especially my wife and my daughters. When I was a kid my grandmother died on the couch  and it took all day to pick up the body. Before they put her in the sack my family said, ‘we got to put her wig on.’  (Raising his award) – This is to Mary Rock.”

Toni Braxton and Anthony Anderson presented  Outstanding Male Artist to Maxwell who beat out Jay Z, Ne Yo, Anthony Hamilton and Charlie Wilson.  There was a brief Michael Jackson  tribute recognizing his “brilliance was in his soul!”

Chairperson Emeritus Myrlie Evers-William introduced current Chairman Julian Bond who passed the torch to the newest and youngest Chairperson, Roslyn M. Brock, 44.

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Daryl “Chill” Mitchell rolled onstage in his wheelchair and in his acceptance declared that as long as the audience (his fans) had legs he would walk. It was a touching moment.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series was won by an absent Jada Pinkett Smith.

Tribute song for Tyler Perry by Pamela Mann “I Have Joy” lost its meaning when the artist muttered under her breath “you all ain’t ready” when the audience did not repeat the word “Joy” at her coaxing at the end of her song.

Cicely Tyson resplendent in silver/gray ensemble and tightly coiffed hairdo was gracious and told Perry to “keep reaching for the stars of which I hope I will always be one!”

With seven feature films and two hit television series, the most bankable African American brand in Hollywood does not operate his business from Hollywood but from Atlanta, Georgia where he is providing countless people of color with jobs.  H was given the Chairman’s Award.

Tyler Perry was given the Chairman’s Award and in accepting he reminisced about celebrating his mom’s birthday last year on this same stage (her birthday was February 12, 1945) and now remembering her as she passed on December 8, 2009.  He credits his upbringing and perhaps even his summers at his grandparents rural Louisianna home that makes him connect to where he came from and respect for his elders that comes across in his films. He is pleased that he is recognized as an influence by the NAACP as he set out to make films to make us laugh but also to show us that we do not have to be only in the movie but we can own the movie.  On giving and philanthrophy – we don’t have to be at the end of the line getting the hand out but we can be at the front of the line giving a hand up.  He is grateful to be able to use his childhood years to let others know that you can be “born into a nightmare but God can usher you into a dream!”

L L Cool J, rocking some shades and a cap pulled low on his brow, introduced the audience to Wyclef Jean, a preacher’s son, rapper, writer, producer who established his Yele Haiti in 2005. Jill Scott gave him a musical tribute much like a Broadway diva!  LL Cool J said, “We rise in solidarity,” and had everyone stand, as Wyclef rose, kissed his wife, Claudinette, and took the stage to accept the NAACP /Ford Vanguard Award and their commitment to stand with him to support Haiti. Wyclef thanked his  wife, The Most High, his dad, mom – a missionary in Florida, his daughter and extended family and of course the people on the ground in Haiti and America in the spirit of Toussaint L’Ouverture. Haiti is the first Black Republic. Thanks to Dr. King for his dream and America for his ability to help Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” He envisions schools being built and free education for kids that cannot afford it. That the orphans before the quake and after be protected so that people should understand that Haitian kids should not be slaves in their households.  80% unemployed, 54% live on less than $1.00 a day.  Free healthcare is promised for Haiti if Wyclef has his way.  He concluded, “what was once considered in the Western Hemisphere to be the most dangerous and poorest shall rise again to be a tourist destination!”

Mo’nique won award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and thanked God for an amazing journey and acknowledged the movie and her husband, Sidney Hicks, an angel; for teaching her about unconditional love.

Morgan Freeman won Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for Invictus. He did not want to thank people whom the audience would not know so he proceeded to simply thank Clint Eastwood for “being” as well as his producing partner, Lori McCreary who was largely responsible for the film.

Golfer Lee Elder was in the audience and was recognized as a trailblazer having broken the race barrier by playing in the Masters Tournament 35 years ago.

Benjamin Todd Jealous,NAACP’s 37 year old CEO and Paula Patton  introduced Van Jones and John Legend performed Teddy Pendergast song “Wake Up Everybody” with a rap intro by The Roots.  Former Obama White House “green jobs” adviser Van Jones, was nominated by Jealous and received the “Presidents Award ” for special achievement in public service and furthering the cause of civil rights.  Jones gave honor to God, his mother Loretta , his wife and two boys and also thanked the NAACP for the vote of confidence and saluted President Barach Obama as a world class leader.  He did not shy away from mentioning his tormentor by repeatedly saying, “I love you Glen Beck and you cannot do anything about it.”

Actor and director Chris Rock announced Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture award goes to Precious since he did not want to butcher her name – Gabourey Sidibe, who tearfully thanked God “for ordering my steps for everything … the way my life was and it is now.  To “Precious” girls everywhere,  this is for you!”

The movie “Precious” captured the final award of the night and director Lee Daniels took the stage proclaiming, “God is good” and the audience repeated “all the time” to his surprise! He then went on to thank everyone, including Sapphire the author of the book “Push” whom he pursued for the rights for 9 years and as the finale music started shutting him down he declared he is a director and knows how to shut down the music so he could continue speaking.  He begged Tyler Perry to come onstage so that he could hug him and reluctantly Tyler went up pointing out they were running out of time.  Perry partnered with Oprah to present “Precious.”  The camera panned to the hosts who closed the show with the finale act, Mary Mary singing “The God In Me” as the credits rolled.

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