To call Sunday night’s history-making Oscar ceremony a celebration of black girl magic would be an understatement. In fact, the multiple wins from black women across several different categories was further validation that they are not only powerful and beautiful, but their work on screen last year was among the best in the entire world.
We’ve always known this to be true, but finally — after 91 years — the Academy Awards finally got the message and gave black women the respect they deserve.
This year's ceremony was the first to award more than one black woman by the end of the night. And several people on social media were celebrating the moment.
The accolades started pouring in at the top of the evening, when Regina King won the best supporting actress Oscar for her stirring performance in "If Beale Street Could Talk," 34 years after her role as Brenda Jenkins on TV series "227." In "Beale Street," the actress plays Sharon Rivers, a mother fighting to preserve the love between her pregnant daughter Tish (Kiki Layne) and her fiancé Alonzo (Stephan James), who’s been wrongfully charged with rape. True to her character, King embodied every bit of the joy, the resilience, and gratitude Sharon had when she took the stage and almost immediately thanked her mother for being by her side.
"I am an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone," King said. "Mom, I love you so much."
Soon after King’s heartfelt acceptance speech, Ruth E. Carter earned her first Oscar for her jaw-dropping costumes in the superhero epic, "Black Panther." A legend in the business for over 30 years, Carter became the first black person to win the Oscar for best costume design.
No one was prouder than the director who gave her her first big break, Spike Lee, for the 1988 dramedy "School Daze." After being nominated in the category twice before — for “Malcolm X” and “Amistad” — Carter kept it real by saying “this has been a long time coming,” which was met with laughs from the audience. She also praised the Academy for “honoring African royalty and the empowered way women can look and lead on screen.”
"Marvel may have created the first black superhero but through costume design we turned him into an African king," she said in her speech.
Carter’s "Black Panther" colleague, Hannah Beachler, also took home Oscar gold for the film’s masterful production design. She, too, became the first black person to win in this category. Beachler has been on a roll for the past several years, having previously worked with director Ryan Coogler on 2013’s "Fruitvale Station" and 2015’s "Creed," and director Barry Jenkins’ 2016 best picture, "Moonlight." When she took the stage Sunday evening, she also paid tribute to the women who’ve inspired her on her journey as well as the women who will follow in her footsteps.
“I give the strength to all of those who come next to keep going, to never give up, and when you think it’s impossible, just remember this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: I did my best, and my best was good enough,” she said in her acceptance speech.
King, Carter and Beachler weren’t the only black women honored by the Academy Awards. Just a few months ago at the Governors Awards, Cicely Tyson received an honorary Oscar for her contributions in Hollywood over the last several decades (her first role was in the 1951 on the TV series, "Frontiers of Faith"). The 94-year-old icon proved that she could still command an audience when she stepped onto the red carpet at Sunday night’s ceremony looking as chic as ever in a black-tiered gown.
Though this year’s Oscars marked a milestone for black female talent in front of and behind the camera, there is obviously still much more work to be done in terms of diversity and representation across the board. So, to answer the question that has been on many people’s minds since this year’s nominations were announced, #OscarsSoWhite is still very much in effect. April Reign, who created the hashtag in 2014 and attended this year’s ceremony for the first time, said it best on the red carpet.
"My answer is absolutely yes, until we are no longer having these conversations about firsts in 2019.”