The honor is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.
Past honorees include United States Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, Radio One Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, filmmaker Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, singer Aretha Franklin, rocker Bono, then-Senator Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, and actor Danny Glover.
"Forest Whitaker embodies the moniker of artist/activist," Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP national board of directors, said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
The ceremony is to be broadcast live Feb. 22 on TV One.
Whitaker appeared in the critically acclaimed 2013 films "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "Fruitvale Station." He won an Oscar in 2007 for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."