Academy Award-nominated actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Pulp Fiction) will be honored at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards with the prestigious Chairman’s Award, the NAACP and BET announced today.
The Chairman’s Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their platforms as agents of change. Past recipients include the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Ruby Dee, Danny Glover, Rev. James Lawson, Tyler Perry, then-Senator Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.
It was also announced today that Scot X. Esdaile will receive the Activist of the Year award, with Channing Hill claiming the Youth Activist of the Year award. This year’s ceremony, hosted by seven-time NAACP Image Award winner Anthony Anderson, will air live on BET on February 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
“Samuel L. Jackson is an incredibly talented actor with a remarkable career in film and theater spanning over four decades,” said Leon W. Russell, who serves as chairman of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors. “Many might not know that prior to his acting career, Jackson was a staunch activist during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, even serving as an usher at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. His continued public service and advocacy for social change make him an excellent recipient for the Chairman’s Award.”
“Samuel L. Jackson’s talent and star power has inspired generations and continues to raise the bar for all of Hollywood,” added BET’s EVP of Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy, Connie Orlando. “We admire his impressive entertainment career and humanitarian efforts, and we look forward to giving him his flowers as a living legend, continuing to honor his Black Excellence.”
Jackson is a five-time NAACP Image Award winner who earned his first Oscar nomination in 1995 for his iconic turn as Jules in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and is set to receive an Honorary Oscar this year. The actor, who has appeared in well over 100 films, has also been honored over the course of his career with a BAFTA Award, BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Cannes Film Festival’s prize for Best Supporting Actor, two Independent Spirit Awards, three Golden Globe nominations, an Emmy nom and a SAG Award nom, among many other accolades. He’s a frequent collaborator of filmmaker Spike Lee and has in recent years played Nick Fury in many a Marvel project, including the upcoming miniseries Secret Invasion. He will next be seen starring in the Apple TV+ limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, based on the novel by bestselling author Walter Mosley, which he also exec produced.
Activist of the Year Award honoree Esdaile serves as President of the Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches and is a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been working with the Black and Latino Caucus to address the lack of testing, data, PPE supplies and vaccinations for the Black and Brown communities—with his efforts on this initiative producing positive outcomes in the health arena, including better access to testing and vaccination sites in minority communities. He also fought for the successful passage of bills that limited use of tasers and established the Minority Health Advisory Council to eliminate health disparities.
Esdaile most recently collaborated with many stakeholders, hospitals, and the Governor of Connecticut on the NAACP National Million Jobs Campaign, an initiative geared toward removing barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals, and designed to help people make fresh starts while reducing recidivism.
Hill is an aspiring lawyer pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic, Legal, and Management Communication at Howard University in Washington, D.C., who also serves as the university’s NAACP Chapter President. The 20-year-old has been organizing and leading protests in public schools in her home state of Texas since her adolescence, and found her voice in her NAACP Youth-Council in Arlington, Texas.
Voting for this year’s NAACP Image Awards remains open through February 5. NAACP will also recognize winners in non-televised Image Awards categories from February 21-25, via a livestream at www.naacpimageawards.net.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1909 in response to ongoing violence against Black people around the country, and now has more than 2,200 units and branches across the nation. Its 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.