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From Selma to Snowden, Oscar Speeches Invoke Activism & Calls for Social Justice

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Calls for social justice were a strong current throughout the acceptance speeches at last night’s 87th Annual Academy Awards. Accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “Boyhood,” Patricia Arquette called for wage equality for women. Winning the Best Original Song along with the rapper Common for “Glory,” featured in the movie “Selma,” singer John Legend paid tribute to protesters from the civil rights era to today. In her acceptance speech for Best Documentary “Citizenfour” — the inside account of how Edward Snowden exposed NSA surveillance — Laura Poitras thanked Snowden and all other whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing. And accepting the award for Best Picture, Birdman Director Alejandro Iñárritu made a dedication to his home country, Mexico, and the millions of immigrants seeking fair treatment in the United States.

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AMY GOODMAN: Calls for social justice were a strong current throughout the acceptance speeches at last night’s Academy Awards. Accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Boyhood, Patricia Arquette called for wage equality for women.

PATRICIA ARQUETTE: To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: The singer John Legend and rapper Common won Best Original Song for “Glory,” featured in the movie Selma. Legend paid tribute to protesters from the civil rights era through to today.

JOHN LEGEND: Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now.

COMMON: Yeah.

JOHN LEGEND: We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 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 we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on. God bless you.

AMY GOODMAN: The film Crisis Hotline, profiling a support center for veterans, won for Best Documentary Short. Producer Dana Perry dedicated the award to her late son.

DANA PERRY: I want to dedicate this to my son, Evan Perry. We lost him to suicide. We should talk about suicide out loud. This is for him. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Best Documentary went to Laura Poitras for Citizenfour, her inside account of how Ed Snowden exposed NSA surveillance. Poitras thanked Snowden and all other whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing.

LAURA POITRAS: The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage, and for the many other whistleblowers. And I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth. Thank you.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: The subject of Citizenfour, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Neil Patrick Harris, the host of the Oscars. Also on the stage with Laura Poitras was Glenn Greenwald and Lindsay Mills, who is the partner of Ed Snowden, who came in from Russia. And accepting the award for Best Picture, Birdman director Alejandro Iñárritu made a dedication to his home country, Mexico, and the millions of immigrants seeking fair treatment in the United States.

ALEJANDRO IÑÁRRITU: Finally, finally, I just want to—I want to take one second. I just want to take the opportunity. I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Still, the Oscar nominations were the whitest in years. There was no—there were no people of color in either of the categories Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress.

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