We had a lot of advice for the NAACP before their 41st annual Image Awards ceremony Friday. In at least one case, they did listen and passed up on giving the award for literary non-fiction to Al Gore. Instead, the winner in that category was The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr. for his book, "In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past." Gates, who heads the W.E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard, based the book on his first two TV series for PBS, African American Lives, which traced the genaology of prominent African Americans though traditional methods as well as DNA analysts.
But enough blowing our own horn. The big winner at the ceremony in Los Angeles was the controversial film, Precious. The brutal story of an illiterate and abused teen who finds hope in a Harlem classroom was named outstanding motion picture and outstanding independent film. Stars Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher and director Lee Daniels also won.
Daniels excitedly accepted the best-picture prize, surrounded by his cast and fellow producers. "No one in Hollywood told me they wanted to see a movie about a 350-pound black woman with HIV," he said. When Sidibe objected, Daniels corrected himself: "She's not 350 pounds. This was before you were hired."
Tyler Perry won the Chairman's Award for his philanthropy and career achievements. Wyclef Jean received the Vanguard Award for raising funds and cultural awareness after the earthquake in Haiti. Human-rights activist Van Jones received the President's Award(see our interview with Jones).
Music mogul Clarence Avant was inducted into the Image Awards Hall of Fame at the ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium, which was hosted by Anika Noni Rose and Hill Harper.
The complete list of winners of the 41st NAACP Image Awards:
- Comedy Series: "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"
- Actor in a comedy series: Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, "Brothers"
- Actress in a comedy series: Cassi Davis, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"
- Supporting actor in a comedy series: Lance Gross, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"
- Supporting actress in a comedy series: Keshia Knight Pulliam, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"
- Drama series: "Lincoln Heights"
- Actor in a drama series: Hill Harper, "CSI: NY"
- Actress in a drama series: Jada Pinkett Smith, "HawthoRNe"
- Supporting actor in a drama series: Delroy Lindo, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
- Supporting actress in a drama series: S. Epatha Merkerson, "Law & Order"
- Television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: "Gifted Hands"
- Actor in a television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Cuba Gooding Jr., "Gifted Hands"
- Actress in a television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Kimberly Elise, "Gifted Hands"
- Actor in a daytime drama series: Cornelius Smith, Jr., "All My Children"
- Actress in a daytime drama series: Debbi Morgan, "All My Children"
- News/information (series or special): "The Inauguration of Barack Obama, 44th President of the nited States"
- Talk series: "The Mo'Nique Show"
- Reality series: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
- Variety series or special: "The Michael Jackson Memorial: Celebrating the Life of Michael Jackson"
- Children's program: "Dora the Explorer"
- Performance in a youth/children's program: Keke Palmer, "True Jackson, VP"
- New artist: Keri Hilson
- Male artist: Maxwell
- Female artist: Mary J. Blige
- Duo, Group or Collaboration: The Black Eyed Peas
- Jazz album: "He and She," Wynton Marsalis
- Gospel album: "Still," BeBe & CeCe Winans
- World music album: "Black President," Sila and the Afrofunk Experience
- Music video: "I Look to You," Whitney Houston
- Song: "God In Me," Mary Mary
- Album: "Stronger With Each Tear," Mary J. Blige
- Literary work, fiction: "The Long Fall," Walter Mosley
- Literary work, non-fiction: "In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past," Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- Literary work, debut author: "A Question of Freedom," R. Dwayne Betts
- Literary work, biography/autobiography: "Michelle Obama," Deborah Willis
- Literary work, instructional: "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man," Steve Harvey
- Literary work, poetry: "Bicycles," Nikki Giovanni
- Literary work, children: "Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change," Michelle Cook
- Literary work, youth/teens: "Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady," David Bergen Brophy
- Motion picture: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
- Actor in a motion picture: Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
- Actress in a motion picture: Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
- Supporting actor in a motion picture: Adam Rodriguez, "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself"
- Supporting actress in a motion picture: MoNique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
- Independent motion picture: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
- Foreign motion picture: "The Stoning of Soraya M."
- Documentary: "Good Hair"
- Writing in a comedy series: Halsted Sullivan and Warren Lieberstein, "The Office"
- Writing in a dramatic series: Shonda Rhimes, "Grey's Anatomy"
- Writing in a motion picture: Geoffrey Fletcher, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
- Directing in a comedy series: Ken Whittingham, "30 Rock"
- Directing in a drama series: Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"
• Directing in a motion picture: Lee Daniels, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"