The award will be presented July 9 by Tony Award winner Courtney B. Vance ( Lucky Guy). Vance and Jones both performed in the original Broadway production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Fences. Jones, who has been honored with Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards, received the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In 2011 Jones was presented with an Honorary Oscar in recognition of his career.
"Mr. Jones is a consummate artist who exemplifies excellence without boundaries. His enduring career embodies a passion and commitment that reaches far beyond performance. In an industry that historically has been reluctant to embrace and celebrate diversity, he has served as a pioneer and role model," Linda Earle, president of Inclusion in the Arts, said in a statement.
Jones was one of the first African-American actors to appear regularly in daytime soap operas (playing a doctor in both "The Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns"), and made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove." In 1969 Jones won a Tony Award for his performance as boxer Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope (which also garnered him an Oscar nomination for the 1970 film adaptation). His stage work also includes The Best Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Othello and Paul Robeson.
His film credits include "Matewan," "Field of Dreams" and "Cry, the Beloved Country" and voice work in "Star Wars" and "The Lion King."
The presentation and reception will be hosted by Loreen Arbus (television producer, author, Diversity Activist & president of The Loreen Arbus Foundation) and co-sponsored by The Walt Disney Studios.