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Black History
The Oscars

--Carol Robinson

When Hattie McDaniel (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0567408/ ) won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind”, she cemented her place in black history as the first African American to win an Oscar. She was also the first of her race to attend the award ceremony as a guest.

Other Oscar firsts in black history occurred when Sydney Poitier (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001627/) became the first African American to win the Best Actor award in 1963 for his role in “Lilies of the Field”. In 1982, Louis Gossett, Jr. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001283/) was the first to receive the statue for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “An Officer and a Gentleman”. More recently, the first African American woman to win in the Best Actress category was Halle Berry (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000932/) who accepted the award for her role in the 2001 film “Monsters Ball”.

This year, five out of the twenty actors nominated are black, and we may see more ethnic Academy Award winners receive the coveted prize in a single year than ever before.

In the Best Actor category, Will Smith (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000226/) is nominated for his touching performance in “The Pursuit of Happyness”. This is Smith’s second Oscar nomination. Forest Whitaker (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001845/) has an excellent chance to win for his leading role in “The Last King of Scotland”.

Eddie Murphy (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000552/) is favored to win the award for Best Supporting Actor. He has already placed a Golden Globe Award on his mantle for his scene-stealing role in the musical “Dreamgirls”. African actor Djimon Hounsou (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005023/) has received his second Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actor category, this time for his performance in the film “Blood Diamond”.

And last, but certainly not least, is the ultra-talented newcomer Jennifer Hudson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005023/) who turned in an amazing performance in “Dreamgirls”. She is expected to walk away with the award for Best Supporting Actress. Even more impressive is the fact that it is her very first film role. Hudson warmed up her winning streak by winning the Golden Globe in the same category.

The countdown to the Oscars is underway this month. Will we see another historic milestone in 2007 with three black winners? The wait will be over on Sunday, February 25th when the envelopes are opened and the 79th Annual Academy Award results will be announced at the ceremony.


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