The Rev. Al Sharpton led a march before the Academy Awards Sunday, citing a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry. The nationwide protests came after this year’s Oscars had an all-white nominations list.
Sharpton, along with hundreds of demonstrators from civil rights organizations, gathered outside Hollywood High School on Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, near the Dolby Theater on Sunday. Sharpton also spoke to a mass of 400 parishioners at a historic black church.
“They’re having a party downtown, and somebody is trying to steal our crown. Don’t let them! Don’t let them,” he said, the New York Times reports. Sharpton’s National Action Network said that they will be carrying out protests all over the country – including Miami, Cleveland, New York and Washington, D.C.
According to NBC Los Angeles, the group will “take a unified stand for diversity, inclusion and justice in Hollywood,” in addition to urging people to “tune out the Oscars.” A message posted on the group’s website said, “Let’s send a strong message that diversity in the film industry must be more than a hollow promise.”
This year’s Academy Awards witnessed an all-white nominations list. Sharpton said it was unfair how movies like “Straight Outa Compton,” “Creed,” or “Concussion” weren’t nominated for any of the awards.
People could be heard protesting “Hollywood, Hollywood, you ain’t looking so good,” and “I got to be up on that screen.” They held signs that said, “Hollywood must do better” and “Shame on You.”
Leading a protest around the parking lot of a shopping center in Hollywood, the group yelled, “This is what diversity looks like!” According to Pix 11, the group said they are not demonstrating against actors for top honors, like Leonardo DiCaprio, who won for Best Actor for The Revenant. “We are not anti-Leonardo. We are anti-exclusion,” Sharpton said.
President of the Academy Awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, announced this January that several changes were slated to be made to the awards’ voting and membership procedures. The focus of these changes, Isaacs said, was to increase the female and diverse membership by 2020. Academy’s Board of Governors voted to begin “an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.”