Ava DuVernay Tells Black Creators That ‘This Is Our Time’ at NAACP Image Awards

By Sameer Rao Jan 16, 2018

A-list artists celebrated a year’s worth of Black excellence and creative achievement at the 49th NAACP Image Awards, which aired live on TV One last night (January 15).

Awardees paid tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose namesake holiday also took place yesterday, throughout the night. For instance, “A Wrinkle in Time” filmmaker and Array founder Ava DuVernay referenced Dr. King after honoring Shonda Rhimes (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Misha Green (“Underground”) and other Black film and television creators in her acceptance speech for the Entertainer of the Year award.

“This is our time,” DuVernay affirmed to tremendous applause. “We can say we were here when all this gorgeous art was happening, and that we supported it—that we lifted each other up, that we did as Dr. King said we would do: Live the dream. We are the dream!”

DuVernay tweeted a TV One video of her full acceptance speech, which you can see below:


Another noteworthy moment featured Kerry Washington (“Scandal”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Lena Waithe (“The Chi”), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Underground”), Angela Robinson (producer, “True Blood”) and Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”) standing side-by-side to praise Black women’s importance to racial and gender justice movements. Their remarks, delivered one sentence at a time by each woman, also incorporated a call to support the Time’s Up initiative against sexual violence and vote during the 2018 midterm elections.

“We are America’s Black women,” Washington started. “Stand by us, stand for us and stand with us,” Cox later said. “Time’s up on complaining about an imperfect system if we aren’t willing to fix it,” Washington continued.

“The midterms are a perfect moment for us to use our voices,” Robinson added. “If we can take back a Senate seat in Alabama,” she continued to applause before Smollett-Bell finished the thought with, “then we have the ability to shift the balance of power.

Watch the speech below:

Other Image award honorees include "Girls Trip” for Outstanding Motion Picture, “Power” for Outstanding Drama Series” and “The New Edition Story” for Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special.

Danny Glover (“Proud Mary”) earned the President’s Award in recognition of his labor rights activism, while the Vanguard Award went to the few surviving members of the Memphis Sanitation Strike.

Read the full list of winners at NAACPImageAwards.net.