Sunday, February 24, 2019, The 91st Academy Awards aired on television.
We all know that February marks the celebration of black heritage. We also know that March is the celebration of female history and how they changed the ways of the world. So, what better way to end Black History Month and begin the celebration of women, than with the recognition of the strides made by African American Women at the 2019 Oscars.
The night began with Regina King winning Best Supporting Actress for her role In “If Beale Street Could Talk”. This was both, her first time being nominated for an Oscar, and her first time winning an Oscar. ‘If Beale Street Could Talk” is a love story of an African American couple in Harlem as a young woman works to clear the name of her falsely accused lover; all before the birth of their first child. King plays the mother of the young woman. In her acceptance speech, King talks about being an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone, takes the time to send gratitude to her mother, and also thanks her “sisters in art”. Thank You Regina King for showing us what it means to win with grace.
After over three decades of hardwork and 3 Oscar nominations, Ruth E. Carter can finally call herself 2019’s Best Costume Designer. The first two nominations were for her work in Spike Lee’s 1992 film, Malcolm X, and Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film, Amistad. Carter’s feelings toward receiving recognition for her work in Black Panther can probably be summed up in the first three words of her acceptance speech: “Wow, I Got it.” During the show, the audience laughs following hearing these words leave Carter’s mouth, but I don’t think she was the only one amazed by her accomplishment of this enterprise. Carter is the first black woman to win Best Costume Design. It took 36 years of continuous hard-work and perseverance to get to this point, and, at 58 years old, Carter proves that you’re never too old to need your mother: “This is for my 97-year-old mother watching in Massachusetts. Mom! Thank you for teaching me about people and their stories. You are the original superhero!” – Yes, Thank You Mrs. Carter because without you there would be no Ms. Ruth E. Carter.
Last but not least, we’ll talk about the groundbreaking win of Ms. Hannah Beachler. The Ohio native began her journey at the University of Cincinnati studying fashion design. She later attended Wright State University where she went on to study film. The journey to becoming the first African American, let alone African American woman, to win and be nominated for Best Production design, began in 2013. Beachler who’s job at one point was to sweep the floors of a lifetime movie, was asked to work with Ryan Coogler on the 2013 film Fruitvale Station. She went on to work on projects such as Creed , Lemonade (Beyoncé ‘s visual Album), and Black Panther (which she just won an Oscar for). In addition to this great feat, Beachler is also the first woman to work as a production designer for a Marvel movie. We stan Hannah Beachler!
I wonder what these wins would mean to Hattie McDaniel. In 1940, at a time when racial segregation was strictly enforced, voting was not an option, and people were still entering facilities through the back door, McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her work in Gone with the Wind. I’m sure that McDaniel would be so proud of the strides made for Black Women in the year 2019.
Happy Women’s History Month.