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Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade will receive the President’s Award at the 54th NAACP Image Awards, the NAACP and BET announced Thursday.
The honor, recognizing notable achievement and valued public service, will be handed out at the ceremony airing live on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on BET. Previous honorees include Muhammad Ali, Colin Powell, Soledad O’Brien, Condoleezza Rice, LeBron James, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“We’re thrilled to present this award to Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade who together have consistently utilized their platforms to advance social justice and raise awareness to the inequalities existing in our country,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “We’re proud to recognize the couple’s tireless humanitarian work as they continue to advocate for equality and acceptance for all.”
“Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade are exemplary in their purpose-driven leadership and use of their collective platforms for good,” said Scott Mills, President & CEO, BET. “This year’s recipients of the NAACP President’s Award are not just a timely signifier of the issues that matter most to the community; they are a testament to what is possible when one commits themselves to advancement in those areas. It is a great honor for BET to join the NAACP to amplify these issues and celebrate the leaders doing the work to drive change in our community.”
As a couple, through their Wade Family Foundation, ex-NBA star Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union-Wade have been at the forefront of providing relief to marginalized communities in need, helping to advance racial justice and LGBTQ equality. The activist couple has been particularly visible on matters of LGBTQ support helping raise money for the nonprofit GLSEN, which is dedicated to ending bullying and discrimination in schools.
On an individual level, Gabrielle Union-Wade has provided support and backed various causes including the Van Ness Recovery House, Leap for Ladies, Out Nebraska, Deborah’s Place, Harvest House, and Baltimore Safe Haven. In addition to financial contributions, Gabrielle is focused on using her platform as a public figure to bring awareness to the work these organizations and others are doing to support underrepresented communities.
Additionally, her haircare line Flawless has formed the Lift As We Climb initiative: a year-round effort that supports emerging Black-owned small businesses, community organizations, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. The initiative produces an annual event that provides monetary and mentoring opportunities to companies and organizations.
Dwyane co-founded Social Change Fund United with Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to invest in and support organizations focused on empowering communities of color and advocating for the human rights of all Black lives.
In 2016, Wade launched his Spotlight On initiative after the loss of his cousin to gun violence in Chicago. The initiative aims to give youth hope for a better future by shining a spotlight on youth in the community who are actively changing the city for the better and are empowering others to make change happen. His activism against gun violence continued when Wade brought awareness to the need for stronger gun control laws by supporting Parkland students during March for Our Lives and by launching a Parkland 17 art exhibit at Florida Art Walk to honor the seventeen lives lost.
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