Last night was Oscar night, and the two highlights of the evening came courtesy of “Selma”. First, we were treated to John Legend and Common’s amazing performance of the song “Glory”, which was nominated in the Best Original Song category. Then, when they won the Oscar for “Glory” (to no one’s surprise), they gave acceptance speeches which were, well, glorious. Beautifully crafted, thoughtful, moving, masterfully delivered, and as we used to say back in the day, right on time.
Common spoke first:
First off, I’d like to thank God that lives in us all. Recently, John and I got to go to Selma and perform “Glory” on the same bridge that Dr. King and the people of the civil rights movement marched on 50 years ago. This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now is a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social status. The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy. This bridge was built on hope. Welded with compassion. And elevated by love for all human beings.
Then John Legend followed with:
Thank you. Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.
How impressive it was to watch these two men use this moment to turn the spotlight away from themselves and onto important issues of our time. The story of “Selma” continues to be the story of a movement. Share these speeches with your sons. Check out John Legend and Common’s amazing performance here and speeches here. Help your sons to appreciate these shining examples of artists who are using their talent to deliver powerful messages.