The 86th Academy Awards marked a historic night for black filmmakers at the Oscars. It’s the first time a black film — 12 Years a Slave — won best picture; the Academy’s most prestigious award.
It feels old-timey to be discussing race in 2014, but sadly it’s still a relevant issue when it comes to Hollywood. Prior to 2000, only six black actors had won Oscars. Since then, black actors, directors and producers have won 18 times. Race is becoming less relevant in the selection process and voting, but just because the current president of the Academy (Cheryl Boone Isaacs) is black, that doesn’t mean everything’s puppy dogs and ice-cream.
Despite recent Oscar history, many argue that minorities are still on the outside looking in. In fact, some nominees like Gabourey Sidibe and winners like Halle Berry haven’t been able to follow up their Oscar success with quality roles. Word on the the corner of Hollywood and Vine is there’s still a shortage of projects for African-Americans looking to make Oscar-worthy films.
Yesterday’s ceremony gives us hope that one day we’ll all be holding hands, singing “Kumbaya.” But until we reach the promised land, it’s important to recognize where we are and how we got here. So get current with your movie knowledge, thanks to this look back at the history of black folks and the Oscars.