Oscars makes history with record seven black winners as Spike Lee urges US to ‘mobilise’ for the 2020 elections

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THE Oscars made history today as a record seven black artists took home gongs in a ceremony awash with wins for diversity.

Regina King and Mahershala Ali won the two supporting actor categories for If Beale Street Could Talk and Green Book, respectively.

Spike Lee got a standing ovation from the crowd when he won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman
Getty Images – Getty

Spike Lee got a standing ovation from the crowd when he won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman[/caption]

Spike got a warm welcome from Samuel L. Jackson
Reuters

Spike got a warm welcome from Samuel L. Jackson[/caption]

And writer-director Spike Lee’s win for best adapted screenplay for his white supremacist drama “BlacKkKlansman” gave the Dolby Theatre ceremony Sunday its signature moment.

The crowd rose in a standing ovation, Lee leapt into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson and even the backstage press room burst into applause.

Lee, whose film includes footage of President Donald Trump following the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke about the upcoming election.

“The 2020 election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s be on the right side of history,” said Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar in 2015.

“Let’s do the right thing! You knew I had to get that in there.”

His BlackKklansman co-writers include another African American winner, Kevin Willmott.

Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter and production designer Hannah Beachler became the first black winners in their categories.

“It just means that we’ve opened the door,” Carter said backstage. “Finally, the door is wide open.”

Director Peter Ramsey also took home a gong after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was named Best Animated Feature.

Two years after winning for his role in Moonlight, Mahershala Ali won again for his supporting performance in the interracial road-trip drama Green Book a role many said was really a lead.

Ali is the second black actor to win two Oscars following Denzel Washington, who won for Glory and Training Day.

Ali dedicated the award to his grandmother.

Green Book, a film hailed by some as a throwback and criticised by others as retrograde, was also crowned best picture at the Academy Awards.

The historic year stands in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2015.

It also marks a leap from the previous record for black Oscar winners in 2016, when five black artists won.

Bohemian Rhapsody, which kicked off the ceremony with a performance by Queen, won four awards despite pans from many critics and sexual assault allegations against its director, Bryan Singer.

Its star, Rami Malek, won best actor for his full-bodied performance and the film was honoured for editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself,” said Malek.

“We’re longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I’m a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now.”

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