The Madea's Family Reunion director received the Chairman's Award at the New York ceremony, held by Sharpton's National Action Network.
Sharpton thanked Perry for giving a $200,000 (£125,000) donation to the National Action Network and providing work for several African-American actors in Hollywood as he presented him with the trophy.
Sharpton told the crowd, ""The ultimate pride is where you don't have to bend and adjust for others to accept you... He (Perry) didn't go mainstream, he brought mainstream to us.""
Accepting his prize, Perry returned Sharpton's praise, telling him, ""To have someone like you who has done all that you have done... and have inspired and encouraged and fought for so many people, to stand here and to give me this award, this is really, really awesome.""
Funnyman Chris Rock and his wife, Malaak, were also feted at the prizegiving, according to the Associated Press.