“Glory” songwriters Common and John Legend (aka Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens) brought the audience to tears at the 2015 Oscars ceremony, earning a standing ovation for their performance of their Best Song nominee just a few minutes before they won the prize.
It was the only Academy Award for Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” which documented the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo).
Watch Common and Legend’s acceptance speech below.
“We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were fifty years ago, but we say that ‘Selma is now’ because the struggle for justice is right now,” Legend said on stage. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty 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, march on.”
Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris didn’t shy away from the controversy over “Selma’s” perceived snubs and the overall lack of diversity in the nominations, opening the ceremony by joking, “tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest!” He later visited David Oyelowo in the audience to include him in a bit about every joke sounding better in a British accent. After the crowd applauded Oyelowo’s delivery, Harris quipped, “Oh, sure, now you like him!” in reference to the thesp’s shutout in the Best Actor category.