A Night of History at the 2019 Academy Awards

Photo courtesy of movieweb.com

The 91st Academy Awards had no host for the first time in 30 years. But, as the night went on, more and more records were broken in better ways – breaking down the barriers of race, gender and more. The whole night was a historical event.

Several people of color took home the coveted award. In the 89 years of the Academy Awards, only 39 African-American actors and actresses have taken home an Oscar. This has sparked a social debate, as many accuse the academy of predominantly choosing white actors and actresses, filmmakers and films themselves.

In the 2019 Oscars, though, there were seven black winners in six separate categories, making history and setting a new record for most individual black winners. Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for “Green Bookand Regina King won best supporting actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott, who co-wrote “BlacKkKlansmanwon best adapted screenplay.

This was also a year of firsts for African-American filmmakers. Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler took home best costume design and production design for “Black Panther,” becoming the first black winners in this category as well as taking home the first Oscars for a Marvel feature film. The pair were also the first black women to win an Oscar not pertaining to acting since 1984, when Irene Cara was the first for winning best original song. Co-Director Peter Ramsey also became the first black director to win best animated feature, for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Rami Malek, who was heavily praised for his depiction of Freddie Mercury in the film “Bohemian Rhapsodyalso won the award for best lead actor, making him the first Egyptian-American to win the category. In total, three of the four coveted acting awards were given to people of color – making large strides in the fight to recognize non-white actors in hollywood.

The 91st Oscars also made history for women, with 14 women taking home awards – the highest number in the history of the Academy – and the most since the record set in 2007 for 13 female winners.

Roma was also the first Mexican film to win best foreign language film, with director Alfonso Cuaron winning best cinematography.

That, in total, makes eight records set for the 91st Academy Awards, with all of these firsts mostly pertaining to people of color, along with the record set for most female winners. Each winner has expressed their pride in winning such awards and making history while doing so.

Ruth E. Carter spoke candidly during her acceptance speech, saying what many have felt during the history of the Oscars: “This was a long time coming.”

Spike Lee also used his speech as a platform for speaking on racial injustice and how the underappreciation of black people, not only in Hollywood, needs to come to an end and will come to an end:

“The word today is ‘irony.’ The date, the 24th. The month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History month. The year, 2019. The year, 1619. History. Her story. 1619. 2019. 400 years. Four hundred years. Our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and brought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night… Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”

Overall, the Oscars proved to be a night of history and joy for all those who worked hard to be recognized and showed more of an appreciation for all races and genders coming to light in Hollywood, the arts and in society overall.

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