Common & John Legend Win an Oscar and Deliver Stirring Words of Change (Video)

Last night (2/22), Common & John Legend won the Best Original Song Academy Award for their song “Glory,” in the movie Selma. They’ve been performing the song at seemingly every major award show, including the Golden Globes and the Grammy Awards, but the artists brought renewed passion to the 87th Academy Awards with both their performance and acceptance speeches. In the final hour of the award show, they performed the song with a large crowd marching behind Common as he rapped his verse, the setting resembling scenes from the film. They were met with a standing ovation following their performance, and it was a beautiful moment, as actor David Oyelowo (among others) could be seen in the audience with tears visibly running down his face.

Just moments later, Idina Menzel and John Travolta presented the award for Best Original Song, after a funny bit poking fun at Travolta for mispronouncing Menzel’s name at the previous year’s awards. “Glory” won the award, making Common & John Legend the third Hip-Hop/R&B act to win an Oscar Award for Best Original Song, along with Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile.

Perhaps even more stirring were the acceptance speeches delivered by both men. Common reflected on recently performing the song on the same bridge where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the people of the Civil Rights movement marched 50 years ago, tying the spirit of their movement to those happening today in places like France and Hong Kong. He said the bridge was now a symbol of hope for change in all parts of the world where their is civil injustice. Legend then brought the message home with cold, hard facts about America currently being the most incarcerated country in the world, and that more black men are under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850. He said that although “Glory” is about the struggle in the film Selma, based in the 1960’s, it still represents the struggle and injustice of today.

While Best Original Song was the only Oscar that Selma won that evening, the spirit of the film was arguably the strongest.

Related: Common & John Legend Receive Oscar Nomination For “Glory”