The Rev. Al Sharpton, leader of the National Action Network, will be honored with a humanitarian award at the BET annual awards show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles July 1, the network announced.
BET said Sharpton will receive the 2012 Humanitarian Award for his commitment to political activism and social reform over the last five decades.
“As the Founder and President of the National Action Network, Sharpton continues to raise awareness about civil rights and political issues, and actively takes a stand against prejudice and injustice for all people-no matter one's race, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation,” the network said in a release.
BET's president of music programming Stephen Hill praised Sharpton's service and highlighted his efforts this year in attempting to bring forth justice in the Trayvon Martin case, according to the New York Daily News.
“What he does better than anyone else is, he gives a voice to the voiceless,” Hill said. “Trayvon Martin is the most recent example.”
Hill added that while the BET Awards primarily honors entertainers, he believes it's important to highlight the work of community leaders like Sharpton.
“It’s important for us to honor not just entertainers, but also people who are excelling in their service…people who give back,” Hill said. “It’s to be celebrated.”
Past honorees of the Humanitarian award include Steve Harvey, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Denzel Washington and Muhammad Ali, among many others.
Box office superstar Samuel L. Jackson will host this year's awards ceremony and artists Usher, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj will perform.
After hearing the news of his imminent award, Sharpton announced that he will dedicate it to his mom Ada, who died in March.