Williams Sisters To Receive Special Naacp Awards - TennisForum.com
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Spike Lee
(Feb. 4, 2003) Los Angeles -- At the NAACP Image Awards Nominees Luncheon, host Diahann Carroll joined NAACP Image Awards Chair Charles Whitehead in announcing this year's recipients of the special Image Awards, with Spike Lee for the Hall of Fame Award, Danny Glover named the Chairman's Award winner and Venus and Serena Williams as the President's Award winners. All three awards will be presented at the 34th NAACP Image Awards, which tapes March 8 and airs Thursday, March 13 (8:00 - 10:00 p.m. ET/PT) on FOX.
Presented annually, the NAACP Image Awards celebrate the outstanding efforts and performances of people of color in literature, television, motion pictures, and recording. This year's theme "Image-A-Nation" aims to honor those works not only wide and deep in impact, but also those that creatively overstepped bounds and conventions to forge a greater nation of images.

The nation first noticed Spike Lee after She's Gotta Have It, his 1986 independently financed project that garnered $7 million and critical praise at the Cannes Film Festival. That was soon followed by movies like School Daze, Jungle Fever and the critically acclaimed Do the Right Thing. Though at times light and comedic, as in Crooklyn and Girl 6, his most poignant works, from Four Little Girls, to Malcolm X, to Bamboozled complete a circle of critical film thought.

NAACP President and CEO, Kweisi Mfume said, "With films that consistently challenge critics and viewers to discuss issues of class and race, Spike Lee has become the most intensely studied and most successful African American director and producer ever. A typical Lee film guarantees two reactions - thought and controversy. In the tradition of the legendary Oscar Micheaux, and for all he has done to help shape and give contrast to the American culture, Spike clearly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

The Chairman's Award, chosen by the NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond, is bestowed for distinguished service and dignified representation of people of color. Bond said that, "Danny Glover stands almost alone in his profession in his interest and involvement in vital issues of

social justice. In his principled opposition to discrimination, inequality and exploitation he sets a high standard for others who must be reminded that responsibility comes with privilege and affluence. The NAACP is honored to honor him."

Glover originally pursued acting to spread messages as an activist at San Francisco State. In time he gained starring roles in blockbusters such as the Lethal Weapon series and in riveting African-American dramas like The Color Purple, Bopha! and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. His participation in over 50 motion pictures has grossed over $1 billion.

While acting, the multi-Image Award winner simultaneously crusaded for human rights. Glover is a recipient of the Amnesty International USA Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in the civil rights movement in Namibia, his work as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program and his commitment to the abolition of the death penalty.

This year's President's Award goes to two California sisters who have blazed new trails in the world of professional tennis. The Williams sisters have volleyed their way to astonishing achievement. The pair learned the basics from their father, Richard, on the modest tennis courts of Compton. Now the two dominate the highest courts in the world.

Mfume said, "Venus and Serena are more than champions on the tennis courts, they are prime examples that there is no substitute for brains, hard work and dedication. Their unparalled abilities and resolve to keeping pushing forward have made them models for all to emulate. I am honored to salute the Williams sisters."

Venus' career highlights include the 2001 and 2000 U.S. Open Singles titles, the 2000 and 2001 Wimbledon Singles titles, the 1999 Italian Open Singles title and the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal.

Serena has claimed the 2002 Wimbledon, U.S., and Italian Open titles, the 1999 U.S. Open title, and most recently the 2003 Australian Open title. As a doubles pair, the duo were victorious at the 2002 and 2000 Wimbledon finals, the 2000 Summer Olympics, the 1999 U.S. Open finals, and the 2001 and 2003 Australian Open finals.

Previous NAACP President's Award recipients include National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, performing artist Lauryn Hill, former President Bill Clinton, radio network celebrities Tom Joyner and Tavis Smiley, and former cabinet secretary Alexis Herman. Past recipients of the NAACP Chairman's Award include artist and actress Janet Jackson, former Commerce Secretary and Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown, social activist and author Dick Gregory, and cartoonist Aaron McGruder in 2002. The NAACP inducted Little Richard into the Hall of Fame last year.

"The special award winners have made field-shifting impact in their respective professions and have significantly raised social awareness around the world," said Whitehead. "Their focus and strong beliefs have led to great achievements and a redefining of what we can expect from athletes, actors, directors and producers."

Nationwide returns as the title sponsor for the 34th NAACP Image Awards. Other sponsors include Wachovia, Blockbuster, Bank of America, and General Motors.

For tickets, contact Ticketmaster outlets, Universal Amphitheatre Main or Citywalk Box Offices at (818) 622-4440, or charge by phone at (818) 252-TIXS (8497). For information or to purchase tickets online, got to www.naacpimageawards.org.

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premiere advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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source: Kevin Trigg - kevin@thecarawaygroup.com / Dion Warrick - dion@thecarawaygroup.com / Allen, Martaineous - MAllen@naacpnet.org
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