Steve Harvey, the well-known Black comedian, author, radio and television talk show host, will host the 44th NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 1 at Los Angeles Shriner Auditorium, the organization announced.

The Image Awards is one of the nation’s premier multicultural awards shows and recognizes the accomplishments of people of color in the areas of television, music, literature and film; as well as those who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

“I’m honored to be hosting the 44th NAACP Image Awards, and celebrate the variety of film, TV, literary, music contributions, and special honorees this year,” Harvey said in a statement. “We’re live on stage…got great things in store for the night!”

Harvey will be joined by other stars, including Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes and Tony Goldwyn, in presenting the honors.

More than 1,200 submissions were received this year, from which five nominees were chosen in each of the 53 categories.

In addition, two Black women will receive special recognition for their achievements.

Kerry Washington, star of ABC’s hit drama “Scandal,” will be presented with the NAACP President’s Award for distinguished public service. Past recipients of the award include environmentalist and White House official Van Jones, President Bill Clinton, CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, actress Ruby Dee, boxer Muhammad Ali and, most recently, the founding members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association.

“For the first time in 40 years, we have a Black woman playing the leading role in a primetime drama on network television. Kerry Washington is a modern trailblazer,” said NAACP President/CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, who selected the recipient. “Her talent and will have taken her to heights we have not seen in years. She extends the tradition of women like Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, and Lena Horne. Rather than seeing her professional success as cause for political silence, she has chosen to use it as a platform for social change. Her championing of the rights of women around the world, and her early work to campaign for President Barack Obama are examples of her willingness to be a politically active and risk-taking woman in real life even as she plays one on TV.”

The other distinguished honoree is United States Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard, who will receive the NAACP Chairman’s Award.

“Vice Admiral Howard is an inspiration for me and women of color across our country,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, in a press release. “Her service and achievements as a top-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy have paved the way for girls and young women to know their dreams can become their reality.”

In receiving this award, Howard, who currently serves as deputy commander for the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, joins a group of luminaries that include TV One founder and president Cathy Hughes, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Tyler Perry, former Vice President Al Gore, Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, then-Sen. Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, and Danny Glover.

“I am sincerely touched and honored that the NAACP would choose to recognize me with the Chairman’s Award,” stated Vice Adm. Howard. “I have been privileged to serve with our nation’s sons and daughters who remain my greatest inspiration. NAACP Image Awards remind us that even when we can’t find role models who look like us, television and the movies allow us to dream and believe that anything is possible. From belief comes faith and from faith the possibilities become real.”

The Feb 1st 44th NAACP Image Awards will air live from 8 to 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

For a list of nominees, click here: 2013 Image Awards Nominees 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO