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Purple box with the words 52nd NAACP Image Awards next to image of a woman in a pink dress holding an award trophy
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett accepted the NAACP Key of Life Award, presented by Wells Fargo, in a virtual presentation during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards®.
Purple box with the words 52nd NAACP Image Awards next to image of a woman in a pink dress holding an award trophy
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett accepted the NAACP Key of Life Award, presented by Wells Fargo, in a virtual presentation during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards®.
Diversity & Inclusion
May 17, 2021

Advocacy and achievement honored by Wells Fargo and the NAACP

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, immunologist at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development, honored during Wells Fargo-sponsored 2021 Image Award Virtual Experience.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett invokes the well-known sentiment, “to whom much is given, much is required,” when talking about her scientific knowledge. A gifted, young, Black viral immunologist, Corbett leads the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team within the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Her team’s game-changing effort to develop the Moderna vaccine, helping end the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years, was noted as she received the NAACP Key of Life Award presented by Wells Fargo as part of the 52nd NAACP Image Awards® Virtual Experience.

Corbett said in her acceptance speech: “It has been an honor to be able to use my knowledge and my purpose in this way and to be able to use my voice to ignite change.”

The non-televised awards, including special awards such as the Key of Life, streamed live March 22 – 26 during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards Virtual Experience. The Image Awards’ week culminated on March 27 with a nationally broadcast awards show, which aired live on BET and across all the ViacomCBS Networks.

Recognized as the nation’s preeminent multicultural awards show from an African American perspective, the NAACP Image Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, and those who promote social justice through their creative work. As the presenting sponsor of the awards presentation, Wells Fargo supported the event this year at a higher level than it has in its 20 years of sponsoring the event.

“As I reflect on receiving the NAACP Key of Life Award, presented by Wells Fargo, for my work on COVID-19 vaccines, the one thing that comes to mind is just how grateful I am for my ancestors who paved the way for me and all Black people to achieve in the highest of regard.” — Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

Wells Fargo also participated in the virtual experience with messages from CEO Charlie Scharf; a message from Ather Williams III, head of Strategy, Digital Platform and Innovation; and an interactive ad in the NAACP Image Awards® Digital Program Journal. Two 30-second Wells Fargo commercials also aired during the live broadcast and virtual experience.

In 1988, the Key of Life Award was created to recognize extraordinary achievements in civil rights, human rights, and community work, according to the vision of Stevie Wonder. Past recipients include Augustus Hawkins, Dionne Warwick, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airman, Brigadier General Charles McGee.

“As I reflect on receiving the NAACP Key of Life Award, presented by Wells Fargo, for my work on COVID-19 vaccines, the one thing that comes to mind is just how grateful I am for my ancestors who paved the way for me and all Black people to achieve in the highest of regard,” said Corbett, who was also noted for her efforts to end vaccine hesitancy. “The flowers we are receiving are overdue, and awards such as the Key of Life Award are just the beginning of blooms to be gotten by generations of Black people to come.”

During the live broadcast of the NAACP Image Awards on BET, the Rev. James Lawson, noted civil rights activist and university professor, received the Chairman’s Award, also sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Other prestigious award-winners included Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, who received the inaugural NAACP Social Justice Impact for her recent work; D-Nice as entertainer of the year; Lebron James received the President’s Award; Eddie Murphy was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame; and actor Chadwick Boseman was posthumously recognized for outstanding film roles.

“These are culturally significant awards that celebrate some of the community’s most brilliant stars, as well as the NAACP’s mission, which includes securing the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights and ensuring the health and well-being of all persons,” said Gigi Dixon, Wells Fargo head of External Engagement for Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion, who is also vice chair of the NAACP Foundation. “We congratulate all the award winners and nominees, and are grateful for the work they do to influence and engage audiences in our rich African American and ethnically diverse cultures.”

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