Samuel L. Jackson‘s initial banter with Spike Lee about the New York Knicks’ win over the San Antonio Spurs was fun, but so too was the former’s reaction to the latter’s winning Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. Yet it was the longtime director and writer’s Oscars speech that brought the theater to its feet on Sunday night.
“Do not turn that motherf–king clock on!” he began. “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.”
Lee then went back “400 years” to Jamestown, Virginia, where his and many other African-Americans’ ancestors were forcibly brought from the African content to satisfy the American slave trade. From there, he traced the “ironic” story to his grandmother, who saved her social security checks and used them to send him to New York University, where he attended film school.
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors, who helped build this country,” he concluded. “If 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 that right thing!”