Skip to main content
Sat Feb 26
Live! 8/7c



LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: Rev. James Lawson speaks from the pulpit of the First AME Church during an event in solidarity with union workers in Wisconsin on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Labor unions throughout the country rallied around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message for the rights of labor. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (March 4, 2021) – Today, the NAACP announced that Civil Rights Movement icon Rev. James Lawson will receive the prestigious NAACP Chairman’s Award during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards. The Chairman’s Award, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo, is bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change. Past honorees of the Chairman’s Award include Tyler Perry, then-Senator Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Ruby Dee, The Neville Brothers, Bono, Danny Glover, and last year’s recipient the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis. The award will be presented to Rev. James Lawson during the two-hour LIVE TV special airing across ViacomCBS Networks including BET and simulcast across ViacomCBS Networks including CBS, BET Her, VH1, MTV, MTV2, and LOGO on Saturday, March 27th, 2021 at 8/7c.

As a prominent civil rights leader, revered teacher and mentor, Rev. James Lawson is one of the most impactful social justice leaders of the twentieth-century. Rev. Lawson will be honored with the Chairman’s Award in recognition of his work as a social change advocate and his critical contributions to the civil rights movement, specifically the integral role in the nonviolent protests of the south in the 1960s.

“Last summer we saw millions around the world take to the streets in the most powerful protests for racial justice and civil rights in a generation. These protests were inspired by the work of Civil Rights Movement leaders like Rev. James Lawson,” said Chairman Leon W. Russell. “In this pivotal moment for Black history, there is no better time to recognize Rev. Lawson’s tremendous contributions to American history and to live up to his example.”

Spotlighting her tremendous work and leading role in the COVID-19 vaccine research and development efforts, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett will receive the Key of Life Award presented by Wells Fargo. The award will recognize Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s historical role as the scientific lead on the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team which has been key to the development of the Moderna vaccine and will be bestowed upon her by Dr. Barney Graham.

NAACP Image Awards Co-Founder, Toni Vaz, will additionally be honored with the Founder’s Award to spotlight her work at creating the nation’s preeminent multicultural award show. Toni Vaz co-founded the NAACP Image Awards in 1967 as a way to change the perception of Black people in Hollywood. The award will be presented by actress Yvettee Nicole Brown.
The 52nd NAACP Image Awards is presented by Wells Fargo, and sponsored by AT&T, FedEx, Nike, Bank of America, Alaska Airlines.

Winners of the LIVE televised award categories will be revealed during the 52st NAACP Image Awards telecast on Saturday, March 27th, 2021 at 8/7c. Non-televised award categories will be announced virtually between March 22-26. The 52nd NAACP Image Awards will be simulcast across ViacomCBS Networks which will include BET, CBS, MTV, VH1, MTV2, BET HER and LOGO.

The NAACP Image Awards honors the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature, and film and also recognizes individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

For all information and the latest news, please follow NAACP Image Awards on Instagram @NAACPImageAwards.

Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.

In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization, and shares our commitment to equal rights.

About BET Networks:
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

NAACP Image Awards Media Contacts:
Sunshine Sachs |
(323) 822-9300

BET Media Contacts (telecast info only):
Chloe Duverge |
(212) 205-3225