Oscars 2021: 4 Times the Show Got Political (Photos)

Reid Nakamura

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With no host and no opening monologue, the 2021 Oscars ceremony was relatively light on political commentary than years’ past, opting instead for a more laid-back approach focused on the nominees and their films. But the topic of racial justice came up several times during the show, beginning with Regina King’s opener and continuing in acceptance speeches throughout the night. Here are four of the most memorable instances:

“One Night in Miami” director Regina King opened the show with a powerful reference to Black Lives Matter protests and last week’s conviction of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. King said, “If things had gone differently in Minneapolis, I may have traded in my heels for marching boots.”

After winning Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Daniel Kaluuya reflected on the continuing mission of Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party. “There’s so much work to do guys, and that’s on everyone in this room,” he said. “It ain’t no single man job. And I look to every single one of you — you got work to do.”

Best Live Action Short winner Travon Free wore a suit lined with the names of victims of police brutality. In his acceptance speech, the “Two Distant Strangers” director said, “And you know James Baldwin once said the most despicable thing a person can be is indifferent to other people’s pain. So I just ask that you please not be indifferent. Please don’t be indifferent to our pain.”

Honorary Oscar recipient Tyler Perry made a plea for unity: “Don’t hate anybody. I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refuse hate.”
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