The movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling book of the same name was crowned Outstanding Motion Picture, seeing off competition from Pariah, Tower Heist, Jumping the Broom and The First Grader.
Viola Davis scooped the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture prize, while her co-star Octavia Spencer was presented with the Outstanding Supporting Actress award at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ceremony in Los Angeles.
Jumping the Broom's stars were also honoured - Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture went to Laz Alonso, while Mike Epps was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Salim Akil won Best Director for the comedy.
Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, was named the Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture and George Lucas was presented with the special Vanguard Award.
He was given a standing ovation at the Shrine Auditorium as Samuel L. Jackson handed over the trophy, in recognition of his career, including recent film Red Tails, which was produced by his Lucasfilm company.
TV award winners included Tyler Perry's House of Payne (Outstanding Comedy Series), L.L. Cool J (Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for NCIS: Los Angeles) and Nick Cannon (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Up All Night).
In the music categories, Jennifer Hudson, who performed with Ne-Yo during the ceremony, landed the Outstanding Album prize for I Remember Me, while soul singer Jill Scott was named Outstanding Female Artist. Outstanding Male Artist went to Cee Lo Green.
The ceremony took on a sombre tone when late singer Whitney Houston was remembered.
Video clips of the singer, who died last Saturday (11Feb12), were shown, and Yolanda Adams sang I Love the Lord from Houston's film The Preacher's Wife.
Presenter Sanaa Latham asked the audience to remember Houston as "a loving mother and extraordinary performer".
The show closed with Best Gospel Album winner Kirk Franklin singing Houston's 1986 hit The Greatest Love of All.