Entertainment

Harry and Meghan to be recognised for social justice work at NAACP Image Awards

The award is presented for special achievement and distinguished public service, and the Sussexes said they were honoured to be recognised.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to receive a top accolade at the NAACP Image Awards for heeding the call to social justice and joining the struggle for equity around the world.

Harry and Meghan were named as recipients of the President’s Award, which recognises special achievement and distinguished public service.

The couple, who stepped down as senior working royals in 2020, said in a joint statement it was a “true honour” and are expected to give a live acceptance speech in the early hours of Sunday, UK time, during the virtual awards ceremony.

The Duchess of Sussex on gender equality
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will receive NAACP’s President’s Award (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

Past recipients of the gong include Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, LeBron James, Rihanna, Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill.

The NAACP, which stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, was set up in 1909 in response to ongoing violence against black people and is the US’s largest and most preeminent civil rights organisation, with more than two million activists.

Its Image Awards celebrate outstanding achievements and performances of black and minority ethnic people in the arts.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said: “We’re thrilled to present this award to Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who together have heeded the call to social justice and have joined the struggle for equity both in the US and around the world.”

The Sussexes’ Archewell Foundation is supporting a new NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award, which recognises leaders creating “transformational change at the intersection of social justice and technology”.

Harry and Meghan said in their statement: “It’s a true honour to be recognised by president Derrick Johnson and the NAACP, whose efforts to propel racial justice and civil rights are as vital today as they were nearly 115 years ago.

“We’re proud to support the NAACP’s work and to also partner with the organisation on the newly created annual NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award, which will be bestowed to Dr Safiya Noble as part of the 53rd NAACP Image Awards.”

The Sussexes have been vocal on racial issues, contributing to the national debate in the US.

You Me at Six in Concert – O2 Academy Brixton
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Meghan told of her “absolute devastation” at racial divisions in a speech to her old secondary school in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.

In October 2020, Harry admitted his privileged upbringing as a member of the royal family meant he had no understanding of unconscious racial bias.

The 53rd NAACP Image Awards is being aired live in the US on Sunday evening.

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