Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard, center, has her shoulder boards replaced by her husband, Wayne Cowles and her sister, Lisa Teitleman, during an Aug. 24 promotion ceremony at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads. Howard is the first African-American woman to receive a third star in flag rank. (MC1 Rafael Martie / Navy)
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Vice Adm. Michelle Howard — the first African-American woman to command a ship — will join an elite group of presidents, entertainers and public servants Feb. 1 when she receives a prestigious award from the NAACP.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will present Howard with its Chairman's Award during the http://www.naacpimageawards.net/">44th NAACP Image Awards, which will air live on NBC, according to an NAACP news release. Previous winners include then-Sen. Barack Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, singers Aretha Franklin and Bono, actor/writer/producer Tyler Perry and actor Danny Glover.
"I am sincerely touched and honored that the NAACP would choose to recognize me with the Chairman's Award," Howard said in the release. "I have been privileged to serve with our nation's sons and daughters who remain my greatest inspiration. NAACP Image Awards remind us that even when we can't find role models who look like us, television and the movies allow us to dream and believe that anything is possible."
The award, given by NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock, recognizes "special achievement and distinguished public service," according to the release.
"Vice Adm. Howard is an inspiration for me and women of color across our country," Brock said in the release. "Her service and achievements as a top-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy have paved the way for girls and young women to know their dreams can become their reality."
Howard, deputy commander for Fleet Forces Command, took command of the dock landing ship Rushmore on March 12, 1999, according to http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=394">her official Navy biography, making her the first black woman to command a Navy vessel. She would later lead Amphibious Squadron 7 and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, and led multinational counterpiracy efforts in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations, according to her bio.