Spike Lee accepted his career-first competitive Oscar on Sunday night with a rousing speech that President Trump slammed as “racist” Monday morning.
The director, who shared the Best Adapted Screenplay prize for his film “BlackKklansman,” bounded onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre to deliver a characteristically political speech that noted the U.S. legacy of slavery and genocide of native people and ended with a call for people to vote in 2020.
Even though Lee did not mention Trump by name, the president lashed out on Monday via Twitter: “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!”
After dropping an F-bomb that got bleeped during the live telecast — “Do not turn that motherf—ing clock on,” Lee shouted — Lee read a prepared statement from a yellow sheet of paper:
The word today is “irony.” The date, the 24th. The month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History month. The year, 2019. The year, 1619. History. Her story. 1619. 2019. 400 years.
Four hundred years. Our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night. My grandmother, Zimmie Shelton Retha, who lived to be 100 years young, who was a Spelman College graduate even though her mother was a slave. My grandmother who saved 50 years of Social Security checks to put her first grandchild — she called me “Spikie-poo” — she put me through Morehouse College and NYU grad film. NYU!
Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.
Watch the video above.