The 54th annual NAACP Image Awards didn’t mess around with time limits last night, going so far as to play music over Ryan Coogler’s tribute to Chadwick Boseman during his acceptance of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Outstanding Motion Picture win. Even Angela Bassett did the thing with the ceremony’s credits rolling over the end of her Entertainer of the Year speech. Still, a few winners did have the good fortune of speaking without any musical interruptions, including Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, who were jointly honored with this year’s President’s Award for special achievement and distinguished public service. The couple used their acceptance speech to praise their trans daughter, Zaya, and passionately advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Wade began by stating that he admires his daughter for being herself despite the ignorance she faces every day. “As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future,” he said. “My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, and your dreams. Zaya, you’ve made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be: our baby girl, Zaya Wade. So, baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I’m proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father.” Union then took the mic to speak about the intersection of Black rights and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, calling for activism that includes everyone and specifically Black trans people. “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents,” she said. “Parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.”