updated 11/24/2009 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/24/2009 AT 1:20 PM ET
In an unprecedented gesture, Tyler Perry has pledged $1 million to the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, The NAACP.
“I feel so honored and blessed to be in a position where I can give,” said Perry. “Had it not been for the perseverance and vision of the thousands who came before me in the 100 years of this legendary organization, I would not be in the position I am in today.”
The millionaire and creative force behind the Madea film franchise and plays, as well as executive producer of this season’s likely Oscar contender, Precious, represents the mission of the NAACP at work, says Chairman Julian Bond.
“Tyler is a courageous pioneer in bringing positive images of African American culture and struggles to the screen. His remarkable journey from poverty and childhood abuse to become one of the world s most successful filmmakers and entrepreneurs is an inspiration to us all,” Bond said.
The gift, which will be distributed over the next four years, will support advocacy programs on economic equality education, health care and criminal justice.
Adds Maxim Thorne, SVP of the NAACP, “Tyler Perry is setting a high standard for others to follow.”