Written by: J. Logan
In honors of the Oscars, I'd like to use this post to honor a few of our past Oscar winners. With pioneers such as Hattie McDaniel (first African American Oscar winner, 1940), Issac Hayes (first African American non-acting catergory, 1972), and Louis Gossett, Jr (first African American best supporting role, 1983) many African Americans would not strive to break the cycles. It is important to honor those who have broken many barriers to make more films, songs, and images more relatable to those of different African American cultures. It is also exciting to see what new African American actor, musician, director, etc. will be the next in line to receive such a prestigious award.
First we have Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win an Oscar for best actor. The film Lilies of the Field was the dramatic comedy that got Poitier the award in 1964. This paved the way for many more African American men to not only get nominated, but also take home an Oscar. When accepting his award, the first thing he said was, "it is a long journey to this moment."
In 2002, Halle Berry took home the Oscar for best actress making her the first and currently standing as the only African American women to win this award. Although the role she won the award for is debatable to some people, I believe the fact she got the award at all and to be the first African American woman to do it is more important. She began the wave and many black actresses are coming for the same opportunity and it's safe to say that it won't be long before Halle isn't the only one anymore. During hear emotional acceptance speech she said, "this moment is so much bigger than me".
Denzel Washington in 2002 became the first African American to take home multiple acting Oscars. After winning best actor for his lead role in Training Day, he also became the second African American male to win for best actor, Sidney being the first. During his 2002 speech Oscar speech, he basically focused on saying a few words about someone he looked up to Sidney Poitier. In his speech he states, "forty years I've been chasing Sidney" and went on to say that he'd always follow in his footsteps.