Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will not attend tonight's NAACP Image Awards because the event's host, Cedric the Entertainer, made jokes about her in the film "Barbershop" that she considered offensive.
In a letter dated Thursday, the co-founder of the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, Elaine Steele, said they appreciated the invitation from the NAACP. But she said that the jokes in the film represent "a sensitive area to us."
"We with many others do not understand the endorsement the NAACP gave to the hurtful jokes in the movie 'Barbershop,' about America's civil rights leaders," the letter stated.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others condemned the comments made in the film by Cedric the Entertainer's character, but Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, said at the time the uproar was overblown.
In addition to hosting tonight's ceremonies at the Universal Amphitheatre, Cedric the Entertainer is nominated for best supporting actor, and the film itself is nominated for outstanding motion picture. Two other "Barbershop" stars, Ice Cube and rapper Eve, also received nominations.