One of the tragedies of not having any Black actors nominated for Academy Awards this year is that without them, there’s no chance of hearing soul-stirring, culturally significant speeches from people who look like us.
Speeches like Denzel Washington’s first Oscar acceptance speech in 1990 for his supporting role as a former slave turned Union soldier in Glory. After thanking his mother, wife, children and agents, Washington said, “I’d also like to pay homage to the 54th – the Black soldiers who helped to make this country free.” Or that time in 2007, when Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker thanked his ancestors for guiding his steps after winning for The Last King of Scotland.
Just before Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards, here are five more speeches from African-American actors and actresses that gave us goosebumps and made us cheer:
It took 74 years, but Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win a leading actress Oscar and her 2002 speech proved as emotionally charged as her victory. Berry spoke from the heart and cried for the door that finally opened for actresses of color:
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Jamie Foxx won the 2005 Oscar for his leading role in Ray and thanked his grandmother who had passed away.
Lupita Nyong’o looked like an angel in blue as she climbed the stairs to accept her 2014 Oscar for her heartbreaking supporting role in 12 Years a Slave. Her words were equally inspiring:
“I have to just take this moment in,” said a tearful Jennifer Hudson as she accepted her award for Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls in 2007.
When Cuba Gooding Jr., won an Oscar for his supporting role in Jerry Maguire in 1997, he thanked a ton of people, including his costar Regina King, by professing his love for them.
Mo’Nique thanked the Academy for voting for her even though she didn’t kowtow to politics in 2010. She also thanked Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to win an Oscar:
In 1939, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to ever win an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone With the Wind.
“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted this,” said Whoopi Goldberg as she accepted an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost in 1991.
Will you be tuning in to the Oscars’ this year?