In a crazy world of constant gun violence (see Chicagoan casualty Hadiya Pendleton) and ratchet rappers like Trinidad James, an awards show that reminds us why Black people shine so bright is welcome. February 1, the first day of Black History Month, served as the perfect backdrop to the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards, which NBC aired live Friday night. The show, hosted by comedian Steve Harvey, was a seamless tribute for honoring Black excellence and distinction. Per usual, the inspiring event celebrated the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, also honoring those who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

There is no doubt that Hollywood’s current “it girl” Kerry Washington was the big winner of the evening. Racking up awards for her roles in both the controversial Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained and the ABC television drama Scandal, Washington was also presented with NAACP President’s Award, in recognition of special achievement and exceptional public service. Washington, who serves on President Obama’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, spoke about her activism.

“Just as we must insure that ‘We the People’ includes all Americans regardless of race, class, gender and sexual orientation,” she said, “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.”

Actor and activist Harry Belafonte was presented with the Spingarn Honorary Medal by his longtime friend, 85-year-old actor Sidney Poitier. Belafonte used his speech as a platform to challenge the Black community for failing to speak out in favor of gun control, saying, “The group most devastated by America’s obsession with the gun is African-Americans… Where is the raised voice of Black America? Why are we mute?”

An emotional Jamie Foxx concluded the night, accepting an award for Entertainer of the Year following Harry Belafonte. ”I’m so humbled tonight… I had so 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.”

Other big winners included Denzel Washington, Lance Gross, Don Cheadle, LL Cool J, Cassi Davis, Loretta Devine, Viola Davis, and a surprising win for the George Lucas-produced Tuskegee Airmen drama Red Tails as Best Motion Picture. Performers included Gladys Knight—who sang “The Way We Were” as part of a tribute to all the great African-American leaders and artists lost in 2012—as well as Wyclef Jean and Common, who honored Belafonte with a tribute performing “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” from his classic 1956 album, Calypso.

For a full list of winners, see below. — Kimberly Wilson


Comedy Series

The Game (BET)

Actor in a Comedy Series

Don Cheadle, House of Lies (Showtime)

Cassi Davis, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (TBS)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Lance Gross, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (TBS)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Vanessa Williams, Desperate Housewives (ABC)

Drama Series

Scandal (ABC)

Actor in a Drama Series

LL Cool J, NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)

Actress in a Drama Series

Kerry Washington, Scandal (ABC)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Omar Epps, House M.D. (FOX)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Loretta Devine, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special

Steel Magnolias (Lifetime)

Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special

Cuba Gooding, Jr., Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Firelight (ABC)

Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special

Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias (Lifetime)

Actor in a Daytime Drama Series

Kristoff St. John, The Young and the Restless (CBS)

Actress in a Daytime Drama Series

Tatyana Ali, The Young and the Restless (CBS)

News/Information (Series or Special)

Unsung (TV One)

Talk Series

The View (ABC)

Reality Series

Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s (OWN)

Variety Series or Special

Black Girls Rock (BET)

Children’s Program

Kasha and the Zulu King (BET)

Performance in a Youth/ Children’s Program – (Series or Special)

Loretta Devine, Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior block on Disney Channel)


New Artist

Elle Varner (MBK/RCA)

Male Artist

Usher (RCA Records)

Female Artist

Alicia Keys (RCA Records)

Duo, Group or Collaboration

Mary Mary (Columbia)

Jazz Album

The Preservation Hall 50th Anniversary Collection, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Legacy)

Gospel Album (Traditional or Contemporary)

Go Get It, Mary Mary (Columbia)

World Music Album

All of Me, Estelle (Atlantic)

Music Video

“Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys (RCA Records)


“I Look to You,” Whitney Houston and R. Kelly (RCA Records)


I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (RCA Records)


Literary Work – Fiction

The Reverend’s Wife, Kimberla Lawson Roby (Grand Central Publishing)

Literary Work – Non-Fiction

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, Jeffrey Toobin (Doubleday)

Literary Work – Debut Author

Nikki G: A Portrait of Nikki Giovanni in Her Own Words, Darryl L. Lacy (Darryl L. Lacy (iUniverse)

Literary Work – Biography/Auto-Biography

Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, John Lewis (Hyperion)

Literary Work – Instructional

Health First: The Black Woman’s Wellness Guide, Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, Hilary Beard (SmileyBooks)

Literary Work – Poetry

Speak Water, Truth Thomas (Cherry Castle Publishing)

Literary Work – Children

What Color Is My World?, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Author), Raymond Obstfeld (Author), A.G. Ford (Illustrator) (Candlewick Press)

Literary Work – Youth/Teens

Obama Talks Back: Global Lessons: A Dialogue With America’s Young Leaders, Gregory Reed (Amber Books)


Motion Picture

Red Tails (Lucasfilm)

Actor in a Motion Picture

Denzel Washington, Flight (Paramount Pictures)

Actress in a Motion Picture

Viola Davis, Won’t Back Down (20th Century Fox)

Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained (Weinstein Co.)

Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Kerry Washington, Django Unchained (Weinstein Co.)

Independent Motion Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild, (Fox Searchlight Pictures) & “Red Tails” (Lucasfilm)

International Motion Picture

The Intouchables, (Weinstein Co.)

Documentary (Theatrical or Television)

On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You’ve Never Heard Of, (Showtime)

Writing in a Comedy Series

Marc Wilmore, The Simpsons – “The Spy Who Learned Me” (FOX)

Writing in a Dramatic Series

Cheo Hodari Coker, Southland – God’s Work (TNT)

Writing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television)

Elizabeth Hunter, Abducted: The Carlina White Story (Lifetime)

Directing in a Comedy Series

Ken Whittingham, Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Directing in a Dramatic Series

Paris Barclay, Smash (NBC)

Directing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television)

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Kimberly N. Wilson is a NYC-based entertainment writer and digital strategist. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and completed her Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law. Follow her on Twitter @kimberlynatasha.