Saturday, January 25, 2003
Los Angeles The NAACP chose Cedric the Entertainer to be host of its upcoming Image Awards show despite his jokes in the film "Barbershop" that angered some black leaders.
His character made mocking remarks in the film about civil rights icons Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sparking complaints from the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when it was released in September.
Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the uproar was "overblown." He noted that other characters in the film shouted down the remarks that Cedric's character made.
Mfume said Thursday he hoped choosing the comedian as host would help put the controversy to rest.
"Some people, and it's their right, will object and say it's not the right choice, but thank God this is America, where people can do that," he said. "We're not a monolithic community, African-Americans -- never have been and never will be."
"Barbershop," about friendships forged at a hair salon in a black neighborhood of Chicago, has five Image Award nominations, including best picture and best supporting actor for Cedric.
The film was a box-office hit that collected more than $75 million domestically.
Cedric has won four consecutive Image Awards for comedic supporting TV actor for "The Steve Harvey Show."