John Legend gave a rousing speech in accepting the Oscar for best music for the civil-rights drama “Selma,” comparing the number of 19th-century slaves to modern-day African Americans in the criminal justice system.
Legend won the award with rapper Common for their song “Glory,” which they also performed at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, bringing audience members including Oprah Winfrey and actor Chris Pine to tears.
“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”
Referring later to Legend’s comments, Common, who also starred in “Selma,” stressed the importance of using the platform of the Oscars speech to highlight social issues. “To whom much is given, much is required,” he said.
“Selma” is based on the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which involved civil-rights activists including Martin Luther King, Jr..