With Queen Latifah hosting the 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards, you knew she was going to celebrate all the amazing Black women in attendance. And it truly was a hall-of-fame caliber roster in the house. The spectacular entertainer was stunning in a black and white gown as she opened the show with a short rendition of “Live Until I Die.” Then as she took a moment to honor some of the most popular performers of the year, she segued into her classic hit “Ladies First.”
“Black women who are always celebrated as superheroes. A role we excel in, but didn’t choose,” the Oscar-nominee said. “Black women who have to navigate between love and outrage. Black women who have to fight to bring life into the world and to save our own. Black women, if nobody told you today I love you.”
And just because they deserve it, she stopped the music to give special recognition to Angela Bassett and Viola Davis. But, of course, it wasn’t all about the ladies, as she also gave a shout out to the Black men in the audience, starting with Kang himself. “Jonathan Majors, I don’t know how you had time to be here and in every single movie that’s out.”
The Equalizer star also gave shout outs to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever writer/director Ryan Coogler and rapper/actor Cliff “Method Man” Smith, taking a moment to wonder why the latter hasn’t aged. “Yes, hip-hop turned 50, but you look the same,” she told Smith.
Queen Latifah wrapped up her opening by standing in front of a list of names of Black people who have been victims of police violence and reminding everyone why it’s so important to continue the fight.
“We’ll also be paying tribute to champions and change makers. Through commitment to our cause they remind the nation that for all the progress that has been made, we still have a long way to go. Especially given the ongoing heartbreaking murders of our children,” she said. “Tyre Nichols may be the most recent tragedy that we’ve heard. But we also mourn every loss that didn’t receive national attention. What each of these people have in common is that they were targeted because of the color of their skin. So let’s keep all these families in our prayers. Let’s do something and let’s find a way to love each other more and more every day. Because that commitment to love within our community is why the Image Awards was created in the first place.”