The NAACP has named Jay-Z as its coveted President’s Award winner, a prize that recognizes the honoree’s distinguished record in public service. The rapper-turned “businessman,” will be honored during the 50th NAACP Image Awards, which will be broadcast live on TV One from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles Saturday night.
“The President’s Award is an honor we carefully bestow upon an individual, maintaining its significance and commitment to recognizing excellence in service that directly affects our community,” NAACP’s President Derrick Johnson said in a statement Thursday.
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is well known as an entrepreneur, Hip-Hop icon and music industry giant, but the 22-time Grammy Awards winner hasn’t received that same type of accolades for his activism. For example, Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z, has become a major civil right player.
One of its latest victories involved helping to clear 11-year-old Jabari Talbot, who was arrested in February after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in his 6th-grade classroom in Florida. That was at least the third time this year alone that Roc Nation had stepped in to offer legal assistance, adding to an impressive list of civil rights accomplishments that included helping to free rapper 21 Savage from immigration detention.
“Shawn Carter has been committed to shedding light on the issues that plague the Black community including systematic racism and unjust treatment under the law, utilizing his global platform to create everlasting change. There is no better time than now, as we celebrate our 50th year, to honor him with this award,” said the NAACP’s president.
The announcement about Jay-Z came amid controversy over the Image Awards nomination of Jussie Smollett. The actor was nominated for the most outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role as Jamal Lyons on the primetime TV show “Empire.”
For more information about the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards, click here.