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Sun, 08.13.1967

The NAACP Holds its First Image Awards Show

*On this date in 1967, the NAACP Image Awards were first presented. 

The NAACP Image Award is an annual ceremony presented by the U.S.-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to honor outstanding film, television, music, and literature performances. Similar to other awards, like the Oscars and the Grammy's, the over 40 categories of the Image Awards are voted on by the award organization's members (in this case, NAACP members). The intersectionality of African America is part of the intent of the awards categories. Honorary awards (similar to the Academy Honorary Award) have also been included, such as the President's Award, the Chairman's Award, the Entertainer of the Year, and the Hall of Fame Award.   

The award ceremony was first nationally televised in 1994 on the Fox Network. There was no awards ceremony in 1973 or 1995. The first live broadcast of the event, also on the Fox Network, occurred in 2007 for its 38th edition (up until 2007, the ceremony had been broadcast with tape delay), and the annual ceremonies usually take place in or around the Los Angeles, United States area, in February or early March. The 44th edition aired on NBC. Sources have had trouble verifying the winners in the top categories from 1983 to 1995.  

In 1987, the NAACP came under fire for dropping their Best Actress award that year. They defended this position, citing a lack of meaningful roles for black women. In 1990, they were criticized once again for not awarding Best Actress. This was the fourth time it could not find enough nominees for Best Actress. As president of the organization's Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch, Sandra Evers-Manly said, "The [film] industry has yet to show diversity or present realistic leading roles for African-American women." 

In other years, some nominees have been called undeserving of NAACP attention. In response, some NAACP representatives have argued that the quality of an artist's work is the salient issue, with factors such as criminal charges inconsequential. For example, in 1994, Tupac Shakur was a nominee for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for the film Poetic Justice despite the filing of sexual assault charges against him in December 1993.   More specifically, Shakur had been accused of felony counts of forcible sodomy and unlawful detainment in New York City when a woman alleged that he and two other men held her down in a hotel room while a fourth man sodomized her. Shakur was also indicted for two counts of aggravated assault in an unrelated incident where he supposedly shot and wounded two off-duty police officers. 

The same year, Martin Lawrence was criticized for winning Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, and the show was criticized for its sexual controversy. In 2004, R. Kelly's Chocolate Factory was nominated for Outstanding Album while he was under indictment for charges related to child pornography. Other nominees have faced controversy due to their portrayals of major civil rights figures. In 2003, the movie Barbershop received five nominations, including Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Supporting Actor (for Cedric the Entertainer's performance).

In the film, Cedric's character makes pejorative remarks about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Jackson, and Jesse Jackson, content that elicited criticism, including Rosa Parks's refusal to attend the awards event. The rap group OutKast received six nominations in 2004 but faced criticism because they had previously recorded the song "Rosa Parks," which had resulted in Parks suing them over using her name.  The New York firm Society Awards manufactures the trophy since its redesign in 2008.  

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