Tonight, Oscar-nominated actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson was honored with the Chairman’s Award at the 53rd Annual NAACP Image Awards, presented by chairman Leon W. Russell.
A longtime activist and advocate, Jackson is a loud supporter of civil rights and an outspoken advocate for Alzheimer’s and cancer research. His foundation raises awareness and money for various charitable causes. With his wife, he created the LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson Performing Arts Center to celebrate the next generation of artists.
“I’ve had the opportunity to use my body to fight for things that were right, from civil rights, to the Vietnam War, to a lot of other things that needed fixing and changing. We got it done. The most important thing being the Voting Rights Act,” said Jackson in his speech. “We can put our legs, our bodies, and our voices to work to make sure people do get out and vote… no matter what they do to keep us from doing it. And I hope you all will do that. And maybe one day, someone will end up with one of these (awards) because you used your legs, your voice and your body.”
The Chairman’s honor recognizes individuals who have committed themselves to acts of public service while using their platforms to create effective change. Former honorees include Congressman John Lewis, Ruby Dee, Danny Glover, Tyler Perry, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters and Regina Benjamin.
“Many might not know that prior to his acting career, Jackson was a staunch activist during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, even serving as an usher at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral,” said chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors Leon W. Russell in a press statement. “His continued public service and advocacy for social change make him an excellent recipient for the Chairman’s Award.”
Jackson has received five NAACP Image Awards in the past — for his roles in A Time To Kill, Coach Carter, Mother and Child, Django Unchained, and Incredibles 2, along with another 7 nominations. Additionally, he will receive an honorary Oscar this year, and was previously nominated for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Jackson has appeared in over 100 films over the course of his career, and has served as producer on acclaimed projects in both film and TV.
Check out the full list of NAACP Image Award Winners here.