John Legend and Common’s Oscar Performance of ‘Glory’, and a Word on Acceptance Speeches

It’s below if you missed it or want to experience John Legend and Common’s moving performance of their Oscar-winning song from ‘Selma’ one more time. Because it was stirring and the night’s most powerful moment. And simply beautiful.

If the embed acts funky, try watching it full screen or watch it here or on Vox where actor David Oyelowo‘s infectiously emotional response is also featured. Oyelowo, whose brilliant performance as Martin Luther King, Jr. was snubbed for a nomination, wasn’t the only person crying after Legend and Common’s towering performance.

Acceptance speech(es) of the night?

Common and Legend. No contest. First Common’s, in full:

Recently John and I got to go to Selma and perform Glory on the same bridge that Dr. King and people of the Civil Rights Movement marched on fifty years ago.

This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation. But now it’s a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social status.

The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the south side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression. To the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy.

This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion, and elevated by love for all human beings.

Legend cut right to the chase.

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 fifty years ago, but we say that Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now.

We know that the Voting Rights Act they fought for fifty 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.

A brief acceptance speech post-mortem

I’m sure my Facebook feed wasn’t the only one buzzing this morning with reactions and over-analysis of winners’ 40-second addresses. Patricia Arquette was on the receiving end of quite a bit of grief after her call for equal pay and women’s rights – from those you’d expect to be supporting her. (Note that the majority of my FB friends are of the progressive bent politically, so I have no idea what those on the reactionary right that love bashing Hollywood anyway were saying. And I don’t really care.)

Here are a couple breakdowns, by Bitchmedia and RH Reality Check, who didn’t at all like Arquette’s post-speech comments. There are likely others.

But I’m not sure what anyone has to gain from deconstructing every line from every short —and oftentimes ad-libbed and unrehearsed— acceptance speech (or post-award q&a) that an artist delivers during what is probably the most exciting moment of their lives. Usually, actors and other artists win awards because they are damn good artists. Their remarks aren’t policy statements and they’re not policy makers.

That said, my guess is that if Arquette would be invited to deliver a policy address on equality and given a month’s lead time to prepare it, she would kick some serious ass.

And if you missed it…

Last night I posted a real live Quito-based tribute to Citizen Four, the story of the world’s most famous whistle blower Edward Snowden, that won Best Feature Documentary. Good choice. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch or download it here.



  1. Thank you for providing the link to Citizen Four, I’ll look forward to watching it.
    I thought there were some incredibly powerful things said last night in some of the acceptance speeches, and I loved that these artists stand up and speak for what they believe in. I try not to watch the post show talk or the media sites the next day. I’d rather not read what some mindless people say, and criticize .

    1. There really were. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s final speech was quite poignant as well, dedicating his Oscar to his “fellow Mexicans” and speaking for the rights of immigrants.

      “I just pray they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.” Definitely a class act.

  2. great post.. i look forward to enjoying the song and speeches; thanks also for the citizen four link; i doubt if the download works at casa loca but thanks – i’ll see it soon!

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