Actor Forest Whitaker attends the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California

Actor Forest Whitaker attends the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California

*Forest Whitaker will get a special award during the 45th NAACP Image Awards telecast, to air live on Saturday, Feb. 22 on TV One.

The civil rights group announced today that the Academy Award-winning actor, producer and director will receive the NAACP Chairman’s Award, given in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.

“Forest Whitaker embodies the moniker of artist/activist,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “His work in front of and behind the camera engages and entertains, and his service to communities around the world is truly inspirational. It is my honor and privilege to recognize Mr. Whitaker with the Chairman’s Award.”

Past Chairman’s Award recipients include United States Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, Radio One Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, then-Senator Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, and Danny Glover.

Whitaker just wrapped an astounding year led by the success of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,’” in which he delivered a moving portrayal of Cecil Gaines, a butler at the White House through eight administrations and 34 years, as well as the critically acclaimed “Fruitvale Station,” on which he served as a producer.