Jay-Z will receive the President’s Award at the 50th NAACP Image Awards this Saturday in Los Angeles, the organization said on Thursday.
The President’s Award recognizes “special achievement and distinguished public service.” Past recipients include Rev. Jesse Jackson, ex-Fugees singer Lauryn Hill, journalist Soledad O’Brien, former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
“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,” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said in a statement. “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.”
Jay-Z (born Shawn Carter) was the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and is a 22-time Grammy award-winner. Outside of his musical achievements, which also include selling over 100 million albums worldwide, Jay is the president of Def Jam Recordings, the co-owner of global streaming service Tidal, and owner/curator of the “Made In America” festival. He also is the founder of the Shawn Carter Foundation and serves as co-founder of The Reform Alliance.
The NAACP Image Awards made headlines two weeks ago while facing pressure from some conservative activist group Project 21, which wants producers to rescind Jussie Smollett’s (“Empire”) Best-Supporting Actor nomination. At the time, Smollett had recently been indicted in Chicago on 16 felony counts, including filing a false police report. Smollett’s charges were dropped on Tuesday by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The 50th NAACP Image Awards will air live on Saturday, March 30 from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on TV One. “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson will host the ceremony, which starts at 9/8c.