The 'All Of Me' hitmaker was not in attendance to pick up the Presidential Award for service and humanitarian efforts at the ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia, but accepted the accolade in a pre-taped video alongside Rev. Al Sharpton.
Meanwhile, Tyrese was presented with the Entertainer of the Year award by Martin Luther King III and, after accepting the honour, gave a performance of his single 'Shame'.
Elsewhere at the event - which will air on TV One on October 3 - Rev. Joseph E. Lowery received the Chairman's Award for historic & transformative service as a civil rights leader, while comedian Wanda Sykes' years of service to youth homelessness and engagement within the LGBT community was recognised with the Activism in the Arts prize.
'Survivor's Remorse' star Tichina Arnold hosted the show, while rapper T.I. gave a spoken word performance, reciting 'United We Stand', which urged young people not to lose focus and addressed the meaning behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
As well as Tyrese, Estelle, Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi and Tasha Cobbs performed, and the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta sang 'Put Your Guns Up', a tribute to those who have lost their lives as a result of gun crime.
Lana Del Rey takes her 60s vintage aesthetic to the extreme with the video for new single 'Chemtrails Over The Country Club'.