Two of the four African American Oscar nominees were honored as winners at the 77th annual Academy Awards Sunday. Jamie Foxx took best actor for "Ray," while Morgan Freeman secured best supporting actor for "Million Dollar Baby." Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo were both nominated for "Hotel Rwanda" for best actor and best supporting actress respectively, but did not win.
Appropriately, the highlight of the night was Foxx’s acceptance speech in which he respectively thanked Sidney Poitier via a comedic impression and spoke of accepting responsibility. He summed up the sentiments of many by speaking about living the "African American dream." His conclusion brought himself to tears when he spoke of his grandmother, who recently passed away, that taught him how to "act."
In the Academy’s 77-year history, Foxx is only the third to have won for best actor behind Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington and of the 14 times that an African American has been nominated for supporting actor, Freeman is the fourth to win behind Louis Gosset, Jr., Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jr. This was the fourth time Freeman had been nominated for an Oscar.
"I think its dope. I think black people can really celebrate this time since when Halle and Denzel won there were people who said the roles they played didn’t warrant them getting an Oscar," said Howard University senior computer science student Christian Porter.
Contrary to history, it seems the Academy is beginning to take great strides in the inclusion of African Americans. Besides the four nominees, Chris Rock became the first African American male and the second African American in history (behind Whoopi Goldberg) to host the show.
Sean "P.Diddy" Combs and Halle Berry were both presenters, Beyonce performed and other seemingly random entertainers, like Usher, could be spotted in the audience, along with an Oscar regular, Oprah, who also became the first person ever to do a live talk show from the Kodak theatre the day after. As Black History Month concludes, the Academy Awards may have provided an eye opening view into the future and what could be if excellence continues to be achieved.
"The Academy Awards says a lot for the current state of this country. America is really changing. Black people are really being integrated into almost everything, legitimately," said Howard senior Business Management student Scott Holland.