John Legend was the recipient of the NAACP’s President’s Award. In accepting the award, he spoke elegantly about what the honor meant to him as his pregnant wife, Chrissy Teigen, beamed in the audience. 

The President’s Award is given for special achievement and distinguished public service, and the gifted artist nails both of those distinctions with his charitable work and his 2015 Oscar for co-writing the song “Glory” for the Martin Luther King drama “Selma.”

Following a video montage highlighting Legend’s career, “Empire” star Jussie Smollet sang a rendition of Legend’s classic “Ordinary People” before the powerhouse Alice Smith came on to sing a powerful, goose bump-giving version of Legend’s Oscar winning song with Common.

Then the nine-time Grammy winner took the stage to perform “All of Me,” and from my seat, which was inside the auditorium and surrounded by a who’s who of African-American entertainment and politics, it was a transformative experience.

Legend’s performance demonstrated the power of the storyteller and the responsibility as an artist and a person of color to get the stories correct and, more to the point, move the dialogue forward with a positive purpose and an end goal in sight. His performance was a call to action—a call to love .

The other clear winner of the night was “Creed,” and the appearance of Sly Stallone brought the audience to their feet. The film won in nearly every category, which included Best Actor (Michael B. Jordan), Best Director (Ryan Coogler,) Best Supporting Actress (Phylicia Rashad) and Best Writing. Sweetening the film’s string of successes, Jordan was also named Entertainer of the Year.

During the show breaks, the celebrities and influencers took the time to take selfies with their distinguished peers. There is great humor in watching gifted people fawn over each other.

The side bar of humor was a welcome change because the (Black and Brown) elephant in the room was no longer passive. There was no tiptoeing around the debate about diversity—or the lack thereof—in Hollywood, and unsurprisingly, the ceremony honored films that were famously snubbed at this year’s Academy Awards. Case in point, Best Picture went to “Straight Outta Compton.” Other winners included Mike Epps for his turn as Uncle Julius on “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Empire,” which won for Outstanding Drama Series, and Regina King for “American Crime,” not to mention a string of wins for ABC’s “Black-ish” and Smollett receiving the Chairman’s Honor.

Leaving it on a humorous note, while inside the press room after the ceremony, O’Shea Jackson Jr. demonstrated both his good manners and “ham side” and mugged every time he saw my camera.

As the crowd departed for the after-party, Jackson turned and said, “Thank you,” the way folks say thank you, with their eyes and heart, and I received it with love and gratitude.