John “Legend” Stephens and Florida A&M University alumnus Lonnie Lynn Jr., also known as “Common,” won the Best Original Song Oscar for “Glory” from the film “Selma” at the 87th Annual Academy Awards in California.
“Glory” is a song about the struggle related to the civil rights movement in the Ava Duvernay directed-film Selma which was released earlier this year.
John Legend and Common won the award directly after performing “Glory.”
Common award acceptance speech highlighted the United States ongoing battle with racial justice.
“This was a monumental win,” said Jabari Payne, a FAMU alumnus with a minor in theatre from Miami, Fla. “Rap is an art created by African-Americans, and when a rap song wins it is a win for the culture, it shows the acceptance of the art.”
Payne also explained that the lyrics were delivered like poetry and that John Legend gave the song the spiritual touch it needed.
“I initially felt phenomenal joy as I saw the two gentlemen win,” said Adam McNeil, a senior history student from Orlando. “Then I immediately thought about the fact that they had just finished performing.”
The speech delivered by John Legend following Common’s promoted the ideal that the justice system is flawed and also showed that the mistreatments of minorities are both still prevalent issues.
“Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” John Legend said. “There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”
John Legend’s speech led to thousands of responses via Twitter by individuals such as New Jersey State Senator Cory Booker and Matt Ford, the national editor at the political media site The Atlantic.
“I think their award win was a sort of ‘consolation prize’ for snubbing all the other black artists [or actors],” said Lucius Oglesby, a FAMU alumnus from Jacksonville. “It follows a pattern in the Oscars where a top black film is snubbed for all nominations aside from the ‘Best Music’ category.
“[Their win] further reinforces the fact that black artistry is only celebrated by white people if it fits into their white supremacist ideas,” Oglesby said.