Hattie McDaniel is the first Black person to win an Oscar. She won for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. In addition to acting, Hattie McDaniel recorded 16 blues sides between 1926 and 1929 and was a radio performer and television personality – She was also the first Black woman to sing on the radio in the United States. She also has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One for music and the other for motion pictures.
But for me her story is tinged with sadness. My heart feels a bit heavy typing this, like I can’t fully celebrate, even with all the success she had in her career.
What do I mean?
Hattie McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, but she was only able to be credited for 83 of them.
Despite being a crucial part of the Gone With The Wind cast she wasn’t able to attend the premiere of the movie because it was held in a whites-only theatre in Atlanta.
At the Oscars ceremony where she won she sat at a segregated table at the side of the room. And even that was a special concession as the hotel where it was hosted was a whites only hotel.
Finally her final wish, to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery, was denied because the graveyard was for whites only.
And yes I know we’ve come a way since then, but it’s still not enough. We together have so much more to do and so much more change that we could be making. Want to know how? Add a comment below, or message me directly.
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