The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences replaced the Oscar during the “Hattie’s Come Home” ceremony Sunday evening.
“I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel. And may I say thank you and God bless you,” said Hattie McDaniel while accepting her best supporting actress Oscar in 1940 for her role in “Gone with the Wind.”
Her great-grandnephew Kevin John Goff spoke during the ceremony.
“She had opportunities or reasons to give up,” Goff said. “She didn’t accept those reasons.”
In 1952, McDaniel died and left the Oscar plaque (at that time supporting roles were awarded plaques rather than the iconic gold statue) to Howard University. It was displayed at the university’s drama department until the late 1960s when it vanished.
“When I was a student at Howard University, being able to see that every day was an affirmation,” said Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University. “And it also was a presence. It was as if she was there with us.”
The ceremony at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium saw Black film experts discuss McDaniel’s achievement as well as students perform an excerpt from “Boulevard of Bold Dreams,” a play by LaDarrion Williams.
“Theater and performance and other genres and disciplines are picking up Hattie’s legacy,” said Khalid Long, a Howard University associate professor of theater arts. “So that young folks, young artists can know her legacy and understand the significant impact that she’s made on the arts, that she’s made in the world, not simply as a Black person, but as a Black woman.”
At the end of the ceremony, representatives of the Academy presented the plaque to university staff.
“I am overjoyed that this Academy Award is returning to what is now the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University,” Rashad said in a statement. “This immense piece of history will be back in the College of Fine Arts for our students to draw inspiration from Ms. Hattie is coming home!”
The plaque will be displayed at the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.
“This is an incredible moment for us here at Howard University. We want to thank the Academy for this incredible special restoration,” said Ben Vinson III, Howard University’s president.