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Arts and Entertainment

Al Sharpton To Lead #OscarsSoWhite Protest In Hollywood Today

Sharpton and Spike Lee at a protest against gun violence in New York last year. (Andrew Burton/ Getty Images)
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The Rev. Al Sharpton is in Los Angeles today leading a protest against the maddening lack of diversity at this year's Academy Awards. Sharpton's actions are just one of many that are taking place across the U.S. today as part of the #OscarsSoWhite boycott, meant to draw attention to the astoundingly whitewashed nominees.According to his Twitter, Sharpton has already spoken at the Second Baptist Church this morning:

The L.A. Times reports Sharpton was also set to deliver a sermon this morning at the First AME Church of Los Angeles. Then, he's slated to hold a press conference next to the former home of Hattie McDaniel, who earned an Oscar for best supporting actress for playing Mammy in Gone With The Wind in 1940. McDaniel was not permitted to sit with her white co-stars at the Cocoanut Grove—the segregated venue for the Oscars that year.

At 2 p.m., Sharpton will be leading a protest at the intersection of Highland and Sunset, right by Hollywood High. This action is just one of several protests taking place across the country today, organized by Sharpton's National Action Network. The group aims to "take a unified stand for diversity, inclusion and justice in Hollywood," by encouraging people to "tune out" i.e., not watch the Oscars. "Let's send a strong message that diversity in the film industry must be more than a hollow promise," according to a statement from the NAN. Protests will be held in cities including Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, and New York.

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In an interview with Variety last month, Sharpton reasoned the necessity of the "tune out", saying:

"We've talked about the climate of exclusion for people of color in Hollywood both in terms of being selected for possible awards and in terms of having power to make deals and it seems as though Hollywood listens a day or two and moves on. Now it’s time to make sure we can't be ignored. A 'tune out' can do that."

In January, following the announcement of the nominations, Sharpton said in a statement:

Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets and this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars. Yet again, deserving Black actors and directors were ignored by the Academy - which reinforces the fact that there are few if any Blacks with real power in Hollywood. Being left out of Awards consideration is about more than just recognition for a job well done; winning an Oscar has long-lasting cultural and economic impacts. It is for precisely these reasons that I met last year with Sony Pictures and why I will continue the fight to bring equality to the film industry. Next month, we will convene a Hollywood Summit to bring light to those studios and others in the film industry who aren’t living up to their obligations. We will not sit idly by and allow our community to be disregarded.

Preach. Maybe we'll see Jada, Will, and Spike there.
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