WASHINGTON (JTA) — The NAACP gave Russell Simmons its Vanguard Award in part for the hip-hop impresario’s work leading a black-Jewish group.
"Russell is deserving of this prestigious award because he has used the power of hip-hop to reach and inspire our nation’s youth," a news release from Simmons’ Foundation for Ethnic Understanding quoted Clayola Brown, the civil rights group’s Image Awards chairwoman, as saying. "Combined with his ongoing commitment to strengthening relations between ethnic communities and his generous charitable spirit, Russell was a natural choice to receive this honor."
Simmons chairs the foundation; Rabbi Marc Schneier is its president. In recent years the group has branched out from black-Jewish relations and reached out to Muslim groups as well.
Vanguard Awards are presented to "a person whose groundbreaking work increases our understanding and awareness of racial and social issues."
Simmons received the award Feb. 12 during a live broadcast of the NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles. Previous honorees include Prince, Steven Spielberg and Aretha Franklin.