Black Oscar History

While visiting a few AA forums and blogs, I've read some misinformed commentary regarding Black Oscar History. A few people have said that Black Oscar winners only win for roles protraying blacks in a negative image. While I know this is untrue, I didn't dispuit because 1) I didn't know Black Oscar history off the top of my head, and 2) I didn't have the time or patients to google the issue, just as the commenters didn't, obviously. So when I received this email from the AA forum at work, I had to share with the blogesphere.

Only one African-American woman has won Best Actress in a Leading Role, Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball. When Halle Berry accepted the Academy Award she accepted it on behalf of Dorothy Dandridge, the first African-American women to be nominated Best Actress. In 1958, Sidney Poitier was the first Black actor to be nominated for Best Actor. He won the Academy Award in 1963 for the movie Lilies of the Field. In 1972, the film Sounder was the first film to have Blacks nominated for both Best Actor (Paul Winfield) and Best Actress (Cicely Tyson). In 1993, the second film to have Blacks nominated for both Best Actor (Laurence Fishburne) and Best Actress (Angela Bassett) was What’s Love Got to Do With It. In 2001, when Denzel Washington won Best Actor for Training Day, he became the first Black actor to receive five acting nominations overall, the first Black actor to receive three Best Actor nominations, and the second Black actor to win Best Actor. In 2004 when Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for the Ray Charles movie, he was the third Black actor to win Best Actor and the first Black actor be nominated in the same year for two acting roles (he was also nominated that year for Best Supporting Actor for the movie, Collateral). Last year, Forest Whitaker became the fourth Black Actor to win Best Actor when he received an Academy Award for The Last King of Scotland.

Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person (male or female) to win an Academy Award when she won for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for the movie Gone With The Wind. Since then, other African-American women nominated for Best Supporting Actress include Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek), Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple), Ethel Waters, Beah Richards (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) and Queen Latifah (Chicago). Whoopie Goldberg became the second African-American woman to win for Best Supporting Actress in Ghost. In 2007, Jennifer Hudson became the third African-American to win Best Supporting Actress for the movie Dreamgirls. This year, Ruby Dee, at age 83, made history when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for American Gangster – she is the second oldest nominee in the history of this award and her nomination is for a five-minute performance, the shortest performance ever to be nominated for an Oscar.

Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. is an American music legend and has won Academy Awards for film composition. During five decades in the entertainment industry, Jones has earned 79 Grammy Award nominations and won 27 Grammys. In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category. That same year, he became the first African-American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on the music of In Cold Blood. Jones was also the first (and so far, the only) African-American to be nominated as a producer in the category of Best Picture (in 1986, for The Color Purple). He was also the first African-American to win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African-American, each of them having seven nominations.

Suzanne de Passe is an American entertainment executive; the CEO of television production company de Passe Entertainment and the first and only African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for writing De Passe first became notable as an executive for Motown. At Motown, de Passe helped to produce television and was responsible for signing, coaching, and developing Motown's most popular act of the 1970s, The Jackson 5. Both she and Lonne Elder III became the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for writing. She was nominated for co-writing the screenplay for the Berry Gordy-produced Lady Sings the Blues starring Diana Ross as singer Billie Holiday, while Elder was nominated for Sounder. De Passe co-wrote Lady Sings the Blues with Terence McCloy and Motown recording artist Chris Clark. In 1989, Berry Gordy sold Motown Productions to de Passe, who renamed it de Passe Entertainment. The company produces such television shows and feature films such as Class Act, Sister, Sister, Smart Guy, and It’s Showtime at the Apollo. She has won Emmy Awards and in 1990 was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

An Oscar nom for a 5 minute performance... I'm routing for you Ruby Dee.


  PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer)

February 25, 2008 at 12:30 PM

such a long shot...but ruby dee looked nice. i said the same thing, but my mother got really upset like, "she slapped him with passion in those few minutes!" i was ROFL!


February 25, 2008 at 1:29 PM

You got the folks at starbucks thinking I'm crazy, cause I'm LOL at your mom's coments. But yeah she worked the hell out of that 5 minutes.