Empire’s Jussie Smollett is set to receive the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chairman’s Award next week.
Openly gay Smollett, who plays singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on TV’s hit drama Empire, will be given recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.
Along with his role on Empire, Smollett is a longtime activist on behalf of civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and other social justice causes since age 15.
He volunteers with such nonprofits as the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa and United Negro College Fund.
Recently he interrupted his performance at the BET Awards to speak out about the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.
“We live in a nation where freedom is what we represent, yet we are still fighting for basic freedoms for all of our people,” he said.
“Let the Supreme Court ruling be proof of how far we’ve come, let the deaths of our sisters and brothers be proof of how far we have to go. No one is free until we are all free.”
“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,” said Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors.
Smollett will be one of five individuals and three organisations to be recognised for using ‘their distinct platforms to be agents of change’.
“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,’,” said Brock.
Last Updated on Jan 28, 2016