NAACP Dodges A Potentially Embarassing Moment

Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04pm EDT
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( - Project 21, a black conservative group, says it is pleased that the NAACP has decided to change the way artists are nominated for the NAACP's annual "Image Awards."

Project 21 noted that the goal of the NAACP's annual Image Awards is to honor black artists who try to portray "positive images and meaningful opportunities for African-Americans."

Project 21 said the NAACP goofed this year, when it nominated R. Kelly for an Image Award in the "best album" category. R. Kelly -- Robert Sylvester Kelly -- made headlines in 2002, when he was indicted on multiple child pornography counts in Illinois. He also faces child pornography charges in Florida.

Using various media outlets in recent months, Project 21 questioned the NAACP's decision to nominate Kelly, saying it proved that the NAACP is out of touch with the needs of black America.

As recently as a month ago, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume defended the process by which R. Kelly was nominated, Project 21 noted in a press release. But, the group added, Mfume's position now has changed -- for the better.

At their quarterly board meeting on Feb. 21, NAACP leaders agreed to change the way artists will be nominated for future Image Awards. Admitting that many past nominees "fail to meet the standards for positive images," Mfume said, "It's more important that Image Awards nominees be able to do more than sing, dance, write and act."

Project 21 member Mychal Massie applauded the NAACP for finally seeing the light: "We are pleased that the more rational elements with the NAACP have prevailed and are looking into a morals clause pursuant to the goals of the Image Awards.

"It should be viewed as nothing less than lamentable that an organization with such an august beginning allowed irrational minds to permit this embarrassment to happen in the first place," Massie added.

This year's Image Award winners were announced on Saturday, March 6. Luther Vandross -- not R. Kelly -- won the award in the best album category. The awards ceremony will be broadcast on March 11.

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