Washington, D.C.—The NAACP, the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, announced Nov. 23 that acclaimed film director Tyler Perry has donated $1 million, marking the largest gift ever given by an individual.
In addition, Perry purchased several NAACP commissioned Jacob Lawrence lithographs and additional lithographs by artists Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam and Jonathan Green. The gift, which will be distributed over the next four years, was made to commemorate the organization’s centennial anniversary.
“We are honored that Tyler Perry chose to support the NAACP,” said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP. “Tyler is a courageous pioneer in bringing positive images of African-American culture and struggles to the screen. His remarkable journey from poverty and childhood abuse to become one of the world’s most successful filmmakers and entrepreneurs is an inspiration to us all,” Bond said.
“Tyler Perry exemplifies an unyielding commitment to uplifting and bringing hope to the disenfranchised and those less fortunate,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, “Both in his films and in his life, he reflects an impressive ethos of caring and conscientiousness. We are deeply grateful for his support.”
“I feel so honored and blessed to be in a position where I can give to the NAACP.” Perry said. “Had it not been for the perseverance and vision of the thousands who came before me in the 100 years of this legendary organization, I would not be in the position I am in today. I continue to be thankful for the tireless work of the NAACP, and I am proud to be able to help in their mission to fight for the equality of all people, and to work towards the elimination of discrimination against race.”
“This is a paradigm shifting moment in Black philanthropy. Here is a civil rights organization that is receiving a donation that is usually targeted only at education or cultural institutions. Tyler Perry is setting a high standard for others to follow,” said Maxim Thorne, senior vice president of the NAACP.
“The generous gift by Tyler Perry will be used to support our Second Century Society advocacy programs on economic equality, education, health care and criminal justice” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.
Since making his film debut in 2005 with Lionsgate’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Tyler Perry has become a multimedia phenomenon. Eight of his nine films have debuted at #1 at the North American box office. Perry’s first book, Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea’s Uninhibited Commentaries on Life and Love, debuted at #1 on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list the week of April 30, 2006, and was named both Book of the Year and Humor Book of the Year at the October 2006 Quill Book Awards. Last year, Perry unveiled Tyler Perry Studios, a 200,000-square-foot studio created from a former Delta Air Lines facility in Atlanta, where his films and television shows are filmed.
This fall, Perry released his ninth film, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, co-starring Taraji Henson and Mary J. Blige. Along with Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate, he also helped release Lee Daniels’ critically acclaimed film, Precious. Perry has a long history of supporting programs that help the hungry and the homeless.