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His acceptance speech called up the ancestry of African Americans, and carried out a message of morality for the American people.
This marked Lee’s first competitive Oscar win.
The film is an adaptation of Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir of the same name about infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. He shared the award with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott.
Read Lee’s full acceptance speech below.
All right. I wanna thank Tonya [Lewis Lee, his wife].
The word today is irony. The date, the 24th. The month of February, which 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 Africa and brought to Jamestown, Virginia, to be enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from morning to night.
My grandmother [unintelligible] lived to be 100 years young, who was a Spelman College graduate, even though her mother was a slave. My grandma, who saved 50 years of Social Security checks to put her first grandchild, she called me “Spikey poo,” put me through Morehouse College and NYU Film. NYU!
Before the world tonight, I can praise our ancestors who helped build this country into what it was today along with the genocide of its native people. If we all connect with our ancestors, we will have love wisdom, and regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner! Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.
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