The NAACP's Image

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Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The NAACP recently released the list of nominees for its annual Image Awards. Over more than three decades, the NAACP has bestowed its award on many respectable and deserving Americans, including civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and astronaut Ronald McNair, and musical artists such as Ella Fitzgerald. But allowing someone who has been charged with child pornography in two states to remain among the nominees hurts the image of the NAACP itself.

Neo-R&B artist R. Kelly is a nominee for album of the year because his 2003 album, "Chocolate Factory," sold more than 2 million copies. At this juncture, though, his musical competence and popularity are not an issue. While the criteria on the Image nomination forms do not question a nominee's character or contributions to humanity, they "are given to those who strive for the portrayal of positive images and meaningful opportunities for African-Americans in motion pictures, television, literature and recording," said Mychal Massie, a member of the conservative group Project 21. After all, post-Monica Lewinsky Bill Clinton won one of the awards in 2001.

R. Kelly's "Chocolate Factory" wasn't his only affair that made headlines last year. …