Accomplished actors Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie will host the 43rd NAACP Image Awards, airing live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 on NBC.
Celebrating the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and honoring individuals or groups who “promote social justice through creative endeavors,” the NAACP Image Awards are considered the “premier multicultural awards show.”
Special honorees include Cathy Hughes, founder and president of TV One and the owner of Interactive One, who will receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award.
“I am thrilled to offer Cathy Hughes the NAACP Chairman’s Award,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors. “This recognition is long overdue for her accomplishment as a trailblazer in the media industry. As the founder of Radio One and TV One, an advocate for small business entrepreneurship, and philanthropist, Cathy Hughes reminds us that collectively and as individuals, we can make a difference. Her presence at the Image Awards continues the NAACP’s quest to celebrate and uplift individuals who model principles of hard work, perseverance and community empowerment.”
The Vanguard Award will be presented to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, executive producer of “Red Tails,” the feature film inspired by the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen. In addition, the Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association will receive the NAACP President’s Award.
Among those scheduled to perform are Lenny Kravitz, Jill Scott, Kirk Franklin and Ne-Yo, while the evening’s star-studded roster of presenters includes LL Cool J, Paula Patton, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Vanessa Williams, Jordin Sparks, Corey Reynolds, Judge Greg Mathis, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Holly Robinson Peete, Regina King, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Archie Panjabi and Hill Harper.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the “premier advocates for civil rights in their communities,” conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
Willis Edwards was a civil rights icon and NAACP leader.
He died July 13, 2012, of cancer. He was 66.
In 1982, Edwards was elected president of the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch. More recently, he served as first vice president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch. Edwards is credited with by many helping to build the coalition of producers and funders that led to the first NAACP Image Awards live on national television in 1986.
NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said Edwards embodied the spirit of the organization.
“Willis attended his duties with great humility and greater passion. His accomplishments in the civil rights arena speak to a career that defies narrow definition. Willis promoted and protected the image of African Americans in the arts; he shaped and expanded the vision of the NAACP National Board of Directors; and he tore down barriers to honest conversation about HIV/AIDS in communities of color. He will be greatly missed.”
Edwards served on the National Board of the NAACP for 12 years in many different capacities. His roles included vice chair of the Image Awards, member of the NAACP Crisis Magazine Committee; member of the executive committee and the budget and finance committee; member of the national health committee and chair of the sub-committee on HIV/AIDS. He recently stepped down from the board of directors and joined the NAACP board of trustees.
“Willis Edwards was a towering figure in the NAACP, and his legacy will be remembered for generations to come,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
“As a civil rights crusader, he continued in the tradition of those who came before him but also created new avenues to pursue justice in a changing world. His ingenuity made him a strong leader and a trusted advisor to so many freedom fighters across the country.”
Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS late in life, Edwards developed a reputation as a strident spokesman for HIV/AIDS education and advocacy. He was instrumental in guiding the NAACP’s work with HIV/AIDS. He also worked with the Minority AIDS Project. His final project was the development of the NAACP manual, “The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative,” a handbook to help congregations stem the spread of the virus.
“Willis Edwards was a national leader for the NAACP and a partner with the City of Los Angeles in the struggle for equality and justice for all people,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa said in a statement.
“I was proud to call him a personal friend for over 20 years in the struggle for civil liberties.”
Edwards was born in Carthage, Texas, on Jan. 1, 1946. He was raised in Palm Springs, Calif.
He later attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he became active in politics.
Edwards began his life in activism as a staffer on the Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign and earned a Bronze Star in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
He worked with Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, arranging for Parks to sit with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 1999 State of the Union Address. He served as vice president of development and planning for the Rosa Parks Museum and Library in Montgomery, Ala.
Opinions range from extreme optimism to grave dismay
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act has spurred a flurry of reactions, both locally and nationally.
The decision upholds the mandate that most Americans get health insurance or pay a penalty.
From politicians to insurance companies to organizations representing consumers and health professionals, many weighed in on a decision that will expand health coverage to more than 30 million Americans.
Congressman Bob Brady said the decision marks a victory for President Barack Obama and the American people.
“By upholding the Affordable (Care) Act they affirmed that President Obama and congressional Democrats were right, and the Act is constitutional. By upholding the individual mandate, they assured that more Americans will be covered than were before the Act was passed,” Brady said in an emailed statement.
“Moreover, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions, and seniors will be able to afford the medicines they so desperately need. My only concern is that the Court removed the ability to ensure that states expand Medicaid to hard hit Americans like my constituents. We’ll have to keep working to improve on that provision.”
Bill Cruice, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, representing 5,000 registered nurses and health professionals, said the decision is a modest step in the right direction to address the nation’s health care crisis.
“It is a profound crisis of affordability for those individuals and families that have coverage on the individual market or through their employers,” said Cruice.
The phrase “health insurance” loses all meaning when accessing such insurance costs up to $5,000, $10,000 or more in out-of-pocket co-payments and deductibles. Too many families that work hard and play by the rules find themselves on the slippery slope to ruined credit and bankruptcy when simply confronted with a health misfortune.”
“While some of the ACA’s provisions would have applied a temporary Band Aid to this gaping wound, the fundamental problem in our health care is the dominance by a small handful of insurance and pharmaceutical conglomerates and profit-driven hospitals that have created a system that squanders billions of dollars on wasteful overhead and collections, and a system which prioritizes their exorbitant profits and executive compensation above all while ordinary Americans struggle to get the care they deserve,” Cruice added.
Independence Blue Cross President and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty said that while the law expands coverage to millions of Americans, it doesn’t adequately address the quality and cost of care.
“The law does not make great progress in improving patient care or lowering health care costs for our customers,” said Hilferty.
“What’s more, major provisions will raise costs for customers and disrupt coverage unless they are addressed.”
For instance, the penalty for failing to carry health insurance, beginning in 2014, will be as low as $95 per year. Hilferty said younger, healthier adults may choose to pay the penalty rather than obtaining costly insurance.
He also noted that beginning in 2014, restrictions in the law on how premiums are set would limit premiums for older adults, the larger users of health care, to no more than three times that of any other health care customer. Currently that range is about five or six to one.
“As a result, health experts say that individuals under 30 would see their premiums spike and many may choose not to buy coverage,” said Hilferty.
Councilwoman Marian Tasco, chair of City Council’s Public Health and Human Services Committee, lauded the Court’s decision.
“I personally know people who don’t have health care, and they can’t get the services that they need. I’m encouraged by the decision, and I think it was the right thing to do,” said Tasco.
Tasco says the ACA would benefit Philadelphians especially, by providing additional funding for the city’s 10 health centers which largely serve the uninsured.
NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said the organization has long supported full implementation of the health care law.
“Access to quality, affordable health care is a civil and human right that should not be reserved for the wealthy or the few. The 32 million American men, women and children covered under this law can now breathe easier,” Brock said in a release.
“Many serious health issues are preventable. But far too often, patients who lack health insurance — especially patients of color — enter medical facilities late in the progression of their diagnosis. This sad reality is costing lives and costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary health care bills. States can now move forward in implementing health care reform with the knowledge that the Affordable Care Act is not going anywhere anytime soon.”
The National Medical Association, which represents African-American physicians, applauded the court’s decision.
“The ACA is working. More seniors can now afford their meds. Young people can stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Insurers no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or drop people because they get sick. We are doing a better job of coordinating care, and we now have better prospects for preventing chronic disease,” said Dr. Cedric M. Bright, NMA president.
“This is our best opportunity in a generation to overhaul our health care system. We look forward to working with the states and the administration to ensure that the reforms are fully implemented,” he concluded.
Officials from Planned Parenthood referred to the act as the “greatest advance in women’s health in a generation. The law will provide access to birth control and cancer screenings without co-pays, direct access to OB/GYN providers without referrals and an end to charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for “pre-existing conditions.”
“At Planned Parenthood, we know how important this law and this decision are for women and families, because we see the need for affordable health care every day,” said Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.
“Women who come into Planned Parenthood health centers often struggle to balance paying for birth control and health services with paying for textbooks, groceries, or gas for the car. The Affordable Care Act will make those decisions easier for women across the country.”
While many hailed the Supreme Court’s decision, some were disappointed in the ruling.
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason says the decision sets the stakes for the November election.
“The only way to save the country from Obamacare’s budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president,” Gleason said.
“Under Obamacare, President Obama’s signature legislation, health care costs continue to skyrocket, and up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage.
Meanwhile, a panel of unelected bureaucrats now has the unprecedented authority to come between elderly patients and their doctors. Obamacare is simply wrong for America and wrong for Pennsylvania. We need market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less. The answer to rising health care costs is not, and will never be, big government.”