Oscar Winners Use Acceptance Speeches As Platform for Social Justice

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From wage equality to immigration, the 87th Academy Awards brought great awareness to the current social issues that America faces. Sunday night's Oscar winners used their acceptance speeches as a platform to promote social issues and be advocates for social justice. 

It started before the curtains in the Dolby Theater opened with Reece Witherspoon demanding that the "gendering" and "sexist" red carpet questioning be put to rest and rather women be asked more equally important questions as their counterparts, men. The movement quickly spread on social media platforms with much support trending under the hashtag #AskHerMore.

That was just the start. When Patricia Arquette won an Oscar for her role as best supporting actress in "Boyhood," she used her acceptance speech to speak about wage equality.

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

While the issue of wage equality runs deep in America, after it was revealed from the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures that in Hollywood many actresses were paid less than their male peers, Arquette is campaigning for wage equality.

In a live performance of "Glory"—the Oscar-winning song from the movie "Selma"—musicians Common and John Legend sang about the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King Jr. led 50 years ago, amongst the civil rights struggle America still faces today. When accepting the Oscar, there was no shortage of social justice in their speeches. 

"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 democracy." Common said.

Legend talked about the current state of our divided nation.

"Selma is now because the struggle for justice is now," Legend said during the speech. "We know that the voting rights that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised in this country today."

Graham Moore, 34 year-old Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game," used his time on stage to instill confidence in the youth of America to be themselves and stand up to bullying.

"When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself," Moore said. "Because I felt weird and I felt different; I felt like I did not belong. And now I'm standing here. So I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes you do—I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn and you're standing on this stage, please pass that message to the next person."

Laura Poitras who won for Best Documentary for "Citizenfour" thanked "whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing."

"The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don't only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself," Poitras said. 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."

While the most anticipated award, Best Picture, was saved for the end of the awards show, it came with a strong message about immigration from Alejandro González Iñárritu. The director of "Birdman" used the final moments of the Academy Awards to speak about his Mexican decent, both domestically and internationally, "calling for action and respect."

"The ones who live in Mexico, I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve," Iñárritu said. "The ones that live in this country, who are just part of the latest generation of immigrants in this county, 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."

Sunday night was about more than the awards that were won, it was a platform for social justice. The Academy Awards "helped to spread important messages that need to be heard." 

 


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