Commemorating the best of Black culture and artistic achievement while honoring those we've lost, the 54th NAACP Awards returned to our screens for another year. With young leaders like Bradley Ross Jackson winning Youth Activist of the Year and our favorite Black shows getting their shine, it was truly one of the biggest highlights from the 2023 award season thus far.
In the spirit of Black joy, here are some of the best moments from the 54th NAACP Image Awards' televised ceremony this evening:
Queen Latifah Was the Host We Deserved
With a jazzy intro, Queen Latifah paid homage to 'Ladies First' and shouted Black women out with a musical selection. She then showed mad love to Black men. She also took time to shout Jonathan Majors for gracing EBONY's February 2023 cover. Effortlessly and gracefully, she did the thing! She also brought attention to the Black folks we've lost due to racialized violence while emphasizing the creation of the NAACP to uplift the Black community.
Nicco Annan Takes Home the award for Outstanding Actor
Presented by Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph, Nicco Annan took home the award for his portrayal of Uncle Clifford in P-Valley. He was nominated alongside Kofi Siriboe, Jabari Banks, Damson Idris and Sterling K. Brown. He gave a moving speech that paid tribute to the P-valley team, his family, and those 40 and up who may have never had the courage to live in their full truth.
Brittney Griner's Return to the Public
Making a brief appearance, Brittney and her wife Cherrelle took time to say thank you to those who fought alongside them to bring her home. The audience rejoiced in seeing Brittney safe and at home after such a tumultuous time in Russia.
The "GOAT" Serena Williams Honored
Presented by Kerry Washington, Serena Williams was honored with the Jackie Robinson Sports Award. After announcing her retirement from tennis last year, this award reflected her tremendous work to better the Black community in the US and abroad. In her acceptance, Serena joked about it being some time since she held up a trophy. She also thanked the NAACP and her community for their support.
Angela Bassett Wins Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Presented by Damson Idris and Method Man after a clearing up who is the sexiest of the two, Angela Bassett expressed her excitement for winning this award from family. This award comes from her work on 9-1-1. She was nominated alongside Rutina Wesley, Queen Latifah and Zendaya.
Congressman Bennie G. Thompson Receives the NAACP Chairman's Award
For his work exposing the truth of the events of the January 6th insurrection, Congressman Bennie Thompson received the NAACP's Chairman Award. He spoke about the privilege of being able to serve and the necessary work still needed to create a better country. He accepted the award on behalf of the shereos and heroes who go unsung and with the knowing that the "struggle continues."
Abbott Elementary Wins Outstanding Comedy Series
The cast of Abbott Elementary hit the stage to accept this award. Quinta spoke to them being a new show and the inspiration they found from other Black-led comedies within the category.
Will Smith Wins Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Will Smith was awarded the Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture award for his work on Apple TV+'s Emancipation. Janelle Monáe accepted the award on his behalf.
Ben Crump Bestowed With the Social Justice Impact Award
Presented by Tracee Ellis Ross, "America's Attorney General" Ben Crump accepted the award. Crump thanked his family and his comrades in the fight for social justice as the source of his inspiration. He vowed to continue fighting for the rights of Black people and People of Color everywhere. He gave a riveting rallying cry about the importance of protecting Black history, culture and people in the courtrooms and classrooms.
Viola Davis Wins Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Winning her 8th NAACP award, Viola Davis took home the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture award for her work in The Woman King. Davis stated that the film was her "magnum opus" and thanked everyone involved in the film for being brave.
Gabrielle Wade-Union and Dwayne Wade Awarded the Presidents Award
Presented by NAACP President Derrick Johnson, the Wades accepted this award for their advocacy and their work. Passionately, as parents, they challenged the community to be more inclusive when fighting for equity and care for all Black folks with intersectional identities.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Wins Outstanding Motion Picture
Zendaya presented the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with the award for Outstanding Motion Picture. Ryan Coogler spoke with immense gratitude for the honor and paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman on screen.
Angela Bassett NAACP Entertainer of the Year
With excitement for her co-nominees, Angela Bassett accepted the award for NAACP's Entertainer of the Year. For the first time, all nominees for the NAACP's Entertainer of the Year award were women.