The 53rd Annual NAACP Image Awards, which were held in person this year on Feb. 26 at the Pasadena Civic Center, honored African-Americans in entertainment and culture.

Established in 1909, the NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. and was formed by W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells.

A special moment arrived in the ceremony as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine was awarded the Social Justice Impact Award.

“As a student of history, I know that the work that I do and the life I live would not be possible without the decades-long efforts of the NAACP to force this country to live up to its highest ideals,” Hannah-Jones, creator of “The 1619 Project,” told the audience. “I decided to use my pen as my weapon to fight. I’m grateful for the community that built me… But this award is not really about me. I’m being recognized for The 1619 Project.

“As of now, some 36 states have passed or are considering bills to make it harder to teach about racism and inequality,” she added. “Politicians are using the power of the state to whitewash an already whitewashed history. Books and ideas about the Black experience, about the LGBTQ community, are being banned. These anti-history laws go hand in hand with regressive policies that aim to restrict our civil and voting rights. A healthy society does not ban ideas, and attacks on books are an attack on democracy.” 

Hannah-Jones was referring to the recent Republican focus on stopping programs that attempt to promote “equity’ and/or discussions on the historic impact of 400 years of anti-Black policies which has gripped the GOP in many red states.

Hannah-Jones’s book “The 1619 Project” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks.

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