Poweful speeches and performances mark 2013 NAACP Image Awards
LOS ANGELES — Powerful speeches from Harry Belafonte and Kerry Washington, and a moving performance of ‘The Way We Were’ by Gladys Knight marked this year’s annual NAACP Image Awards ceremony held Friday in Los Angeles, California at the Shrine Auditorium.
Kerry Washington, activist and star of ABC’s hit television series “Scandal,” received three awards for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for “Scandal,” Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for “Django Unchained” and the President’s Award, given in recognition of special achievement and exceptional public service.
“This award does not belong to me,” said an outspoken Kerry Washington, who plays a slave separated from her husband in “Django Unchained,” as she picked up her first trophy of the evening for her role in the film directed by Quentin Tarantino. “It belongs to our ancestors. We shot this film on a slave plantation, and they were with us along every step of the way.”
Kerry Washington, who also plays crisis management consultant Olivia Pope on “Scandal,” serves on President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
“Just as we must insure that ‘We the People’ includes all Americans regardless of race, class, gender and sexual orientation, we must also work to make sure that the stories we tell, the movies we make, the television we produce, the theatre we stage, the novels we publish are inclusive in all those same ways.
Vice Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, receiving the Chairman’s Award for her service in the U.S. Navy, quote freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech. ”Harriet Tubman said ‘every great dream begins with a dreamer. You have within you the strength, the patience and passion to reach for the stars,’ and for all of you who have written, composed, directed, produced or acted, you let us believe that we could reach the stars…”
Gladys Knight performed a powerful rendition of “The Way We Were” during the In Memoriam segment, which featured images of a comprehensive list of luminaries now deceased, including Donna Summers, Don Cornelius, Whitney Houston, Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys), Al Freeman Jr., John A. Payton, Chris Lighty, Dick Anthony Williams, Gil Noble, Ravi Shenkar, Russell Means and many more whose distinguished contributions to the legacy of diasporic people of color were observed.
Sidney Poitier, a master orator, cinema legend and diplomat, presented his comaptriot Harry Belafonte with the Spingarn Award, which honors outstanding achievement by an African American. Harry Belafonte, widely respected for his humanitarian activism, used last night’s platform to raise awareness of social issues affecting people of color.
“The group most devastated by America’s obsession with the gun is African-Americans. Although making comparisons can be dangerous, there are times when they must be noted. America has the largest prison population in the world. Of the over 2 million men, women and children who make up the incarcerated, the overwhelming majority is Black. They are the most unemployed, the most caught in the unjust systems of justice, and in the gun game, we are the most hunted. The river of blood that washes the streets of ur nation flows mostly from the bodies of our Black children. Yet as the great debate emerges on the question of the gun, White America discusses the constitutional issue of ownership, while no one speaks of the consequences of our racial carnage. The question is ‘where is the raised voice of Black America? Why are we mute? Where are our leaders, our legislators? Where is the Church?”
Harry Belafonte went on to name a number of individuals that have inspired him throughout the years, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Bobbie Kennedy, W. E. B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, and Paul Robeson.
Many actors hit lighter notes throughout the evening. Don Cheedle, awarded the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series award for his role as a morally bankrupt corporate management consultant in Showtime’s “House of Lies,” joked in reference to Kerry Washington’s humbling speech heard earlier in the night: ”This doesn’t belong just to me, but I am taking it home tonight”
George Lucas won an award for “Red Tails,” the drama about the Tuskegee Airmen. The film and filmmaker were honored as Outstanding Motion Picture. ”Look! I beat Quentin Tarantino,” joked Lucas as he accepted the award.
LL Cool J, who was honored as Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles,” dedicated his trophy to fellow nominee Michael Clarke Duncan, “The Green Mile” and “The Finder” actor who died last year. ”I wish his family well,” said LL. “Let’s give it up for him.”
Other winners at the ceremony hosted by talk show host Steve Harvey included Loretta Devine as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “Grey’s Anatomy,” Cassi Davis as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series and Lance Gross as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for TBS’ “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”
A few winners weren’t present at the Shrine Auditorium to pick up their trophies, including Denzel Washington for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for “Flight,” Viola Davis for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for “Won’t Back Down” and Omar Epps for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Fox’s “House.”
Jamie Foxx rounded out the night, accepting an award for Entertainer of the Year. ”I’m so humbled tonight. I was thinking about all of the stuff I was going to say personally, about myself… Then you watch Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poiter come out… I had some many things that I wanted to say, but after watching and listening to Harry Belafonte speak, sometimes I feel like I failed a little bit in being caught up in what I do… I guarantee you, I’m gonna work a whole lot harder…”
“Django was an absolute blessing of a movie,” Jamie Foxx added. “Thank you Quentin Tarantino for having the courage to do it.” Foxx closed with the singing of the song “No Weapons Shall Prosper,” which he said Quentin Tarantino played during the filming of certain scenes in “Django Unchained”.
The Image Awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Complete Winners’ List.