Black History Month: Oscars 2019

oscar statue

There were a lot of firsts during last night’s Oscar ceremony, worth celebrating whether it’s Black History Month or not (but it just so happens to be).

  • Regina King won her first Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role in If Beale Street Could Talk. Not only was it her first win, it was her first nomination. If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of an the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin, a love story set in Harlem in the early 1970s. In her acceptance speech, King called Baldwin, “one of the greatest artists of our time.”
  • Ruth Carter won her first Oscar for Costume Design (Black Panther), which also made her the first Black person to win an Academy Award in Costume Design.
  • Hannah Beachler became the first African American person to win the Academy Award for Production Design (Black Panther).
  • Mahershala Ali won Actor in a Supporting Role (Green Book). It’s his second win in the category in three years, making him only the second Black actor in history to win more than one acting Oscar. Ali won the same Best Supporting Actor prize just two years ago for Moonlight.
  • Peter Ramsey is now the first black director to ever win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse).
  • Spike Lee won his first Oscar for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (BlacKkKlansman). He did win an honorary award in 2016, and a nomination when his documentary 4 Little Girls was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1998. He wrote BlacKkKlansman, based on the book by Ron Stallworth, with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. In this year’s Oscars, Lee also earned his first Best Director nomination (BlacKkKlansman), which is also the first film of his to receive a Best Picture nomination.

One other win of note: Black Panther won the Music (Original Score) Oscar.

In related news, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, a documentary, premieres today at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Smithsonian Channel.