Daniel Kaluuya says Black stories are 'more vital than ever' at Celebration of Black Cinema

The Critics Choice Association is kicking off Black History Month by celebrating diverse perspectives in film during the third annual Celebration of Black Cinema.

"We've heard the rallying cry for justice and equality from more voices than ever before," said Daniel Kaluuya, star of "Judas and the Black Messiah," at the virtual event Tuesday. "As artists, it's on us to keep our voices raised. To tell our stories. Black stories, and to show that these stories are vital…more vital than ever."

Although "2020 was not the greatest year," host Bevy Smith said, Black film delivered a "record-breaking year" of authentic stories about people of color told by people of color, from "One Night in Miami" to "Malcolm & Marie."

"Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" also brought "Chadwick Boseman's last incredible performance," Smith added. The actor, best known as Marvel's "Black Panther," died in August at age 43 after privately battling colon cancer.  

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Boseman posthumously received the Performance of the Year Award for his final role  as a self-absorbed musician in Netflix's "Ma Rainey," which has earned him Oscar buzz for best actor.

"Chadwick Boseman was an amazing artist. We've all been thrilled and excited and overwhelmed by the depth of his work and performance," said director George C. Wolfe.

Wolfe applauded Boseman for being "present" on set despite his illness and recalled a time when the actor helped soothe his young co-star Dusan Brown while shooting a scene.

"(Boseman) pulled (Brown) aside and said, 'We are here for you. We are here to support you. This is your moment and that's why all of us are here,'" Wolfe recalled. "What an astonishing, incredible, generous thing to do for another actor. He was so present, not just as an actor, but he was present as a human being."

The ceremony also looked to the "best of our next generation," Taraji P. Henson declared while presenting "Malcolm & Marie" stars Zendaya and John David Washington with the Next Gen Award.

Zendaya called filming "Malcolm & Marie" during the pandemic "a special opportunity." She also credited her fellow honorees with continually inspiring a "young Black woman" to "create something and believe in myself."

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Zendaya accepts the Next Gen Award at the Critics Choice Association's Third Annual Celebration of Black Cinema on Feb. 02, 2021.

Other honorees included "Da 5 Bloods" star Delroy Lindo, "Sylvie’s Love" actress Tessa Thompson, producing duo John Legend and Mike Jackson, "The Trial of The Chicago 7" star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" actress Andra Day, director Shaka King, Olympian Tommie Smith and the cast of "One Night in Miami."

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