Rewind: Hattie McDaniel

Black History Month ends today.  There have been arguments that there should no longer be a month long recognition for the accomplishments of African-Americans.  Since Black History is American History it should be recognized and celebrated everyday.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, I am happy we are in a leap year so I can highlight the Black History Month moment from today’s date in 1940.

At the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood, Hattie McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.”   That night she took a long walk from a segregated table in the back of the Coconut Grove ballroom to accept the award, all the while becoming the first African-American to be nominated and win an Oscar.  Such incredible irony.  Other than the wait staff, she was the first African-American allowed in the ballroom.  Oh, God Bless America!

This photo is deceiving because the Oscar McDaniel took home was not the Oscar statue.  Instead, she received a plaque – the type of Oscar awarded to all Best Supporting Actors and Actresses at that time.  (See below)

I wanted to find more concrete evidence to what appears to be an edited acceptance speech.  Speculation is the speech was recorded separately and then edited into the telecast.  It does look like it. The wide shots before and after her close up do not appear seamless.  Some even said the speech wasn’t even her own words; someone from the Academy wrote the words to ensure “quality.”   Whether that speech was from her heart or not, here are some additional Hattie McDaniel zingers.  It sounds like she was a character; an Oscar award winning character!

Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be making $7 a week being one.

When I was little, my mother taught me how to use a fork and knife. The trouble is that Mother forget to teach me how to stop using them!

What do you want me to do? Play a glamour girl and sit on Clark Gable’s knee?

I’m letting no man handle my bank account.

I sure am tired of drinking this colored tea.

As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets, I’ll take roast chicken and dumplings.

Faith is the black person’s federal reserve system.

I did my best, and God did the rest.


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