The 50th Annual NAACP Awards were handed out this weekend, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) was honored with the Chairman’s Award.
“Extra’s” Terri Seymour was with Waters backstage, where she talked about the honor and about Jussie Smollett. Smollett was nominated, along with the cast of "Empire," but was not in attendance. Rep. Waters had been one of the first to come out in support of the actor when news of a reported hate crime against him broke. Later, he was charged with 16 felonies for allegedly lying to police about the encounter, but those charges were controversially dropped. He forfeited a $10,000 bond and performed community service.
"It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped," Rep. Waters said. "First of all, we probably will never know all of the details. We’ve heard a lot of information. No one was hurt — that is, physically, killed, shot — he never committed a crime before, he forfeited the bail and it’s this kind of situation where they close the case all over the country every day. I have learned this isn't unsual."
She went on to say the case has garnered "a lot of attention because of who he is — he’s an extremely talented man who people have come to love because he is on TV. I’m hopeful that he will go on with his career and be successful."
Saying she hasn’t spoken to Jussie since the charges were dropped, Rep. Waters said, “I would love to see him, and I am looking forward to seeing him very soon."
Of her award, she said, "It's surreal. I am extraordinarily excited and honored that the NAACP would choose me for this honor. The NAACP is a historic civil rights organization that has opened doors for all of us and created opportunities we would not have gotten if not for them and their work, so I am just overwhelmed tonight with this honor."
Past winners include Barack Obama, Janet Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Bono and Tyler Perry. Smollett was one of the honorees in 2016.