"We are such a beautiful people, this is just a reminder of all the beautiful things that we can do," said Lizzo as she accepted the night's last and biggest award, leaping and dancing off the stage at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium as the show ended.
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Host Anthony Anderson of "black-ish" opened the show, telecast on BET for the first time, with a monologue that took a shot at the lack of diversity at the Oscars and Hollywood's other ceremonies that handed out awards earlier in the year.
"Unlike other awards shows, we actually have black nominees," Anderson said. He may well have been talking about "Just Mercy," the acclaimed film that was snubbed by the Oscars, Golden Globes and other ceremonies in the long awards season.
Michael B. Jordan won best actor in a motion picture for his role as a crusading defense attorney in the film, and Jamie Foxx won best supporting actor for the wrongly convicted man he fought for.
"This project is a lot bigger than me. It's about every person that's wrongfully convicted and sitting in a jail cell right now," Jordan said as he accepted the award.
Foxx won his fifth career image award for his role in "Just Mercy," saying, "Thank you so much, black people, African-Americans, and everything else we are."
He added, "Its always great to get it from black folks because we are so talented."
Lupita Nyong'o won best actress in a film for her role in "Us," and 15-year-old Marsai Martin won best supporting actress for her role in "Little" over superstar names including Jennifer Lopez, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer.
Martin's award went with three more she won Friday for her roles in "Little" and "black-ish" during the non-televised first night of the Image Awards.
"Thank you to all the beautiful black girls out there who inspire me every day," Martin said as she accepted the supporting actress award.
Martin's "black-ish" cast mate Tracee Ellis Ross won best actress in a TV comedy series, her ninth career Image Award.
"I love being a part of this ever-growing chorus of black women owning our legacies," Ross said as she accepted the award.
It was a big Image Awards all-round for "black-ish," which took home seven, including best TV comedy and best actor in a TV comedy for host Anderson.
The NAACP gave its Chairman's Award, which goes to people who show exemplary public service and "create agents of change," to civil rights legend U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
"The NAACP has been like a bridge over troubled waters," Lewis, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer, said in a recorded acceptance speech from Washington. "We're going to have some more troubled waters, and we're going to need the NAACP."
Rihanna received the NAACP President's Award for special achievement and distinguished public service. She called for racial, religious and cultural unity during her acceptance speech.
"If there's anything that I've learned, it's that we can only fix this world together," Rihanna said. "We can't do it divided. Tell your friends to pull up."
She added, "We've been denied opportunities since the beginning of time, and still we prevail ... Imagine what we can do if we do it together."
Beyoncé was the big winner at Friday night's non-televised gala, winning six awards, including outstanding female artist and album. She also won outstanding duo/group for her collaboration with her 8-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, and Saint Jhn.
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