This year the chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, Roslyn M. Brock, will present the prestigious Chairman’s Award to individuals and organizations who have used their distinct platforms to be agents of change. The recipients are Brittany “Bree” Newsome; Justice League NYC; Concerned Student 1950 Collective at the University of Missouri, Columbia; The University of Mississippi NAACP College Chapter; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III; Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley; Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, and Jussie Smollett. The presentation will take place during the 47th NAACP Image Awards, broadcast live on Friday, February 5 (9:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delayed) on TV One, the civil rights organization announced recently.
“It is a rare privilege for me to present the NAACP Chairman’s 2016 Award to an outstanding group of trailblazing leaders all under the age of 50 who have given voice and vision to the mantra that black lives matter,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors.
“The five individuals and three organizations have raised awareness of social, educational, and economic injustice from college campuses, church pulpits and the streets, and exemplify what this award symbolizes – “Courage Will Not Skip this Generation.”
The NAACP Chairman’s Award is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service. Past honorees include Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder, Jr., United States Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, Radio One Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, then-Senator Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, Danny Glover, and Forest Whitaker.
47th NAACP Chairman Award Honorees:
Justice League NYC is a rapid-response criminal justice task force launched by The Gathering for Justice. The Justice League NYC has established itself as a leader in the Movement for Racial Equity. In April 2015, Justice League NYC led a 9-day, 250-mile march from New York City to Washington, D.C. to deliver to Congress three federal bills to end racial profiling, stop the militarization of police and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
The University of Mississippi NAACP College Chapter is an organization committed to ensuring the educational, political, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The College Chapter’s leadership was a key catalyst in the student led campaign to remove the Mississippi state flag, which includes the confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner from campus grounds.
Concerned Student 1950 Collective at the University of Missouri, Columbia stood up to institutional apathy and racial hostility on the campus. The Collective organized a series of “Racism Lives Here” protest rallies that included a hunger strike by a graduate student and a pivotal boycott by its football team the Missouri Tigers that resulted in the resignations of the University of Missouri System President and the Chancellor.
As Brittany “Bree” Newsome watched the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 9 people slaughtered at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, she recognized the message being communicated clearly by the US flag and the SC state flag at half-mast while the Confederate flag remained fully furled. Refusing to accept the premise of this image – that white supremacy is supreme, untouchable and invincible – she scaled the 30-foot flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse and removed the “stars and bars” boldly declaring, “This flag comes down today!”
Widely recognized as Empire’s Jamal Lyon, actor-singer-songwriter Jussie Smollett is a longtime activist who has actively stood up for civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and more social justice causes since age 15. Smollett volunteers with such nonprofits as the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa, and United Negro College Fund, among others. Jussie is an outspoken advocate for LGBT issues and extremely active in GLAAD. Recently he interrupted his performance at the BET Awards to speak out about the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.
Time magazine has identified Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant as one of the key figures of this hour to move the generation forward. His training and tutelage emanated from his time serving as National Youth and College Director of the NAACP where he organized a national “Stop The Violence Start the Love” campaign to counter the violence that claimed the lives of thousands of young African Americans.
Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is a preacher, activist, author and culture critic. This “new millennial” preacher is committed to preaching prophetically that the message of love and justice are inseparable companions. As part of his community engagement through Trinity United Church of Christ, Dr. Moss led the team that came up with the “My Life Matters” curriculum; which includes the viral video “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival,” created in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police.
Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a biblical scholar and arguably one of the greatest orators of our generation, is the much sought after, gifted, anointed, and dynamic pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, whose history dates back more than 200 years. Under Dr. Wesley, Alfred Street Baptist Church is the first and only faith-based organization to date to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Dr. Wesley led community protest marches against the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict in the death of Eric Garner. His sermon, “When the Verdict Hurts,” was acknowledged in Time magazine’s July 29, 2013 cover story, “After Trayvon”.