One of the most moving musical performances on the 2015 Oscars was John Legend and Common’s performance of “Glory” from Selma. The song also went on to win the Best Original Song Oscar, and Legend and Common had the star-studded audience on their feet (and some members in tears) when they delivered one of the evening’s best acceptance speeches.
“First, I would like to thank God, who lives in us all. Recently, John and I got to go to Selma and perform ‘Glory’ on the same bridge that Dr. King and the people of the civil rights movement marched on 50 years ago. This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation but now is a symbol for change,” said Common on stage at the Oscars. “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.”
“Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live,” added Legend. “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. 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.”
After accepting their Oscar, Legend and Common headed backstage to speak with the media. Asked why they believe it’s important to use their fame to speak out, Common replied, “Well, as John spoke in his speech when he said Nina Simone and talked about using this platform, I feel like to whom much is given much is required. And the fact that we have an opportunity to get to a stage like the Oscars, I mean how could you not say anything, especially representing a film like Selma, representing the song ‘Glory,’ and just honestly being an artist that cares. Like beyond what we have done on this song, John has always made music about love. He’s been doing things for education for a long time. He stands up for issues. Him and his wife send trucks to people that were protesting, food trucks to people that were protesting in New York to support them. Those are the things that I feel like we can do as people in a position of power and influence. So yes, I feel it’s our duty. And I don’t hold any other artists accountable, but it’s our duty, if you recognize that, to do it.”
Watch the performance:
-By Rebecca Murray
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