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'Ray' a big winner at NAACP Image Awards

Alicia Keys, Morgan Freeman also take home prizes
/ Source: The Associated Press

The biopic “Ray” about the life of legendary singer Ray Charles won four NAACP Image Awards, including an outstanding-actor trophy that added to its star Jamie Foxx’s armful of honors.

“Ray” was nominated for a leading seven awards, including outstanding motion picture and outstanding actor in a motion picture for Foxx, who received the best-actor Oscar at last month’s Academy Awards.

Foxx exchanged long embraces Saturday night with presenters Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll as he accepted his NAACP trophy.

The 36th annual Image Awards, which honor films, television, literature and music by and about people of color, were handed out at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The ceremony, hosted by actor Chris Tucker, was scheduled to air Friday on Fox.

Ray Charles looms large, again“This has been an absolute wonderful ride,” said Foxx, who also won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of the music legend.

It was the second year in a row that Ray Charles loomed large at the Image Awards. He was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame in 2004, three months before his death at 73.

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys also was a multiple winner, taking home a pair of trophies for outstanding song and music video for “If I Ain’t Got You.”

Winners were chosen by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Other honors for “Ray” included: Kerry Washington, outstanding actress in a motion picture, and Regina King, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture.

In her acceptance speech, Washington said the country needs the NAACP’s activism more than ever.

Speaking at a ceremony that, unlike most other awards shows, eagerly blends politics and entertainment, she warned that the rights of people of color, women and the poor are “in danger of being stripped” away.

Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman won the Image Award for supporting actor in his role in the film “Million Dollar Baby.”

Freeman and Foxx made Oscar history earlier this year. For only the second time in the ceremony’s 77 years, blacks earned two of the four acting awards. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won in 2002.

West: Past year 'a trip'Kanye West was named outstanding new artist for his album, “College Dropout,” while Grammy-winner Usher was honored as outstanding male artist. “American Idol” winner Fantasia was named outstanding female artist.

West was humble in his acceptance speech.

“I made some mistakes and I learned from those mistakes,” he told the audience, characterizing the past year as “a trip.”

In the new category of outstanding independent or foreign film, the award went to Bishop T.D. Jakes’ drama about abuse, “Woman Thou Art Loosed.” Jakes’ novel, from which the movie was adapted, also was named best literary work, fiction.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., received the Chairman’s Award, while the Vanguard Award went to pop star Prince. Talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey also was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame.

“There is an element of show business to politics,” Obama said. “But I think it’s important to remind ourselves that what’s at stake in our politics is more than just image.”

Serious problems exist, he said, including a lack of health care for all families, children who are unable to read and a lack of attention to the African continent.