ABOVE PHOTO by Leona Dixon
By Kharisma McIlwaine
The NAACP has been celebrating Black excellence in all its forms since its inception in 1909, and continues to be a voice for the African American community, finding new ways to uplift and acknowledge the many accomplishments of our leaders across the diaspora. The NAACP Image Awards is one of the largest platforms used to honor exemplary work in the African American community in film, television, theater, music and literature.
This year, the NAACP celebrates its 54th Annual Image Awards ceremony live on February 25. Locally, the Philadelphia NAACP Branch and the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) will partner for the 2nd Annual Philly NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet Watch Party.
The event will be held at AAMP and will feature a red carpet, an award ceremony and a live watch party during the awards program. Dr. Ashley Jordan, CEO and president of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and Catherine Hicks, publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday SUN and president of the Philadelphia NAACP Branch spoke with the SUN about the upcoming event, the importance of supporting Black excellence and additional programming throughout the Philadelphia community.
Both organizations are excited about this year’s event.
“Last year was our first. Dr. Jordan and I talked about doing something that we could work together with the community, but also highlight the excellence of the African American community,” Hicks said. “Dr. Jordan was on board for this collaboration, which would not only highlight the NAACP and The Image Awards, but also the African American Museum which is so important to our community.”
“For us as an institution, we know that the work of the NAACP is part of our exhibitions –it’s part of our textbooks,” Jordan added. “Thinking about some of the major legal battles that have been fought in this country in areas of education, social justice, and civil rights — where would we be without the NAACP? So, for me, it was a no-brainer in regard to why we should partner because the mission speaks for itself. I’m an extension of the NAACP, so it was an easy yes for us as an institution to partner with this organization for the work that they’re doing. The Image Awards are to celebrate us at our best, to highlight those in different categories and we just wanted to make it a night to celebrate the culture. We were excited to partner.”
The 2nd Annual Philly NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet Party boasts a full evening of events for attendees to enjoy.
“It’s going to be a night Philadelphians will enjoy and remember,” Hicks said. “We start the red carpet at 5 p.m. with a Hollywood-style meet and greet. Come with your red carpet outfits on and your heels, but then for those who enjoy the new tradition of the sneaker ball, be ready to slip into your red carpet kicks, and enjoy the evening and museum as you walk around and mingle comfortably. We’ll do the red carpet from 5-6:30 p.m. where you’ll have the opportunity to meet the who’s who of the city. We’ll also have an award ceremony starting at 6:30 which will be highlighting a few of Philadelphia’s notables and those making a difference in our city.”
Saudia Shuler, owner of Country Cooking, Sam Staten Jr., business manager of Laborers Local 332 and V.P. of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), Khalil Edwards of Black Voters Matter and Veronica Joyner, founder and CEO of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia are among this year’s honorees.
“Saudia Shuler is one of the honorees for all that she does in the community.” Hicks said. “She has a history of giving back and sharing — that’s part of our culture and also part of Black excellence. We’re also honoring Sam Staten Jr., who is iconic in the community for giving back as business manager of the Union which he heads. He insures many black owned businesses and organizations are funded. The Union and Sam Staten Jr. do so much.”
“We’ll also be honoring Khalil Edwards, who heads Black Voters Matter with our Social Justice award,” Hicks continued. “Finally, The People’s Choice Award will be going to Veronica Joyner, who has the Mathematics Civics & Sciences Charter School and that is because [of] her excellence in education. We put out a link for people to nominate the People’s Choice of Philadelphia and Veronica Joyner received that.”
The event will also offer food and a signature cocktail drink that represents both the NAACP and AAMP. Another highlight of the evening will be the live stream of the awards ceremony and coverage from the Los Angeles red carpet courtesy of Philadelphia SUN contributor Andrea Lawful Sanders. Sanders will be covering the red carpet portion of the Image Awards for the SUN for the 3rd year.
It will give party attendees the chance to feel like they are there, Hicks said.
“As those stars and nominees are walking the red carpet, Andrea will be pulling them over for interviews and we’ll be able to see it live and participate,” Hicks said. “That’s another reason we decided to put this together, because it highlights our stories, our culture and our Black excellence. The whole night is really comprised of us enjoying and highlighting each other. We’re so honored to be able to do it here at The African American Museum. Dr. Jordan has done such an excellent job of really bringing us back to a place where people know and want to be a part of.”
Supporting the Philly NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet Watch Party will also offer opportunities for attendees to participate in additional programs curated by AAMP. One of them is a special evening keynote address being delivered by Dr. Bernice A. King at the historic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church on February 26 at 4 p.m.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to see the best of both worlds — our celebration, a connection to our history and Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of two civil rights activists,” Jordan said. “They act as an extension of the work we’re doing currently. The theme is called “The Beloved Community” and we would love for all to attend.”
In addition to partnering with the Philadelphia NAACP Branch for the Image Awards event, AAMP has cultivated a variety of programs in honor of Black History Month. One of the museum’s foremost missions is to provide programming that appeals to a wide range of people.
“We’re in our peak season, which is Black History Month,” Jordan said. “We celebrate Black History every day, all year long, but because of February and our special designation, we like to increase our efforts for areas of programming and exhibition. We want to be a museum that goes beyond just collecting history, but a place where history happens.”
“We celebrated recently with a Super Bowl party,” Jordan continued. “We wanted to watch history in the sense that we had these two African American quarterbacks, for the first time ever competing for The Lombardi trophy. One of the things I thought was so important about this was that we saw people that may not come to an exhibition or programming come to this sporting event. We were happy to have an inroad to a new demographic. For upcoming events, on February 18 at 4 p.m., we’ll have a conversation with Citizens Bank in regard to the racial wealth gap focusing on some of the disparities we see in Philadelphia and debunking some of the myths about banking institutions.”
“The NAACP also partnered with a home health organization, My Independence at HOME Quality Home Care with Compassion, which is bringing 90 seniors here for a tour of the African American Museum,” Hicks added. “We’re really excited about that as well.”
The Philadelphia NAACP Branch and AAMP continue to create safe spaces that honor Black excellence while uplifting our community. Celebrate their efforts by attending The 2nd Annual Philly NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet Watch Party on February 25, 2023. To purchase tickets, visit: www.aampmuseum.org or www.naacpphillybranch.org.
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