Political advocacy dotted Sunday’s Oscar Awards and reminded us that social change is ongoing work. Actress Daniela Vega made history as the Academy Awards’ first openly transgender presenter, Lupita Nyong’o stirred audiences with a powerful speech about DREAMers and, of course, there was that chill-inducing #HereWeAre campaign. Their marked presence posed a stark contrast to what the awards show has looked like in the decades since its first ceremony. No doubt, the Latinas’ attendance and roles at last night’s show came from years of prying doors open for themselves.
Still, no one’s presence highlighted the ways in which political activism has shaped the course of our country’s history quite like the moment that civil rights advocate, Dolores Huerta, was commemorated onstage.
Huerta was honored during Common and Andra Day’s performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Stand Up For Something” from the film “Marshall.”
Thanks to all the heroes who joined us on stage at the #Oscars. Much love to Alice Brown Otter, Bana Alabed, Bryan Stevenson, Cecile Richards, Dolores Huerta, Janet Mock, José Andrés, Nicole Hockley, Patrisse Cullors + Tarana Burke. https://t.co/h0ijS58KcO pic.twitter.com/q8LaDX2usf
— COMMON (@common) March 5, 2018
In an interview with Variety, Day explained the artistic duo’s decision to celebrate Huerta and other heroes during their Oscar performance. “What we hoped to convey is the essence of this song,” Day explained. “These are all people who have fought through their own personal pain to make things better for themselves and for others… My prayer is that seeing these people and what they do is that catalyst to find the courage to stand up and to serve. I’m of the opinion that, as people, in our essence, we were designed to serve each other and society at large.”
Huerta was one in ten of the advocates honored during Day and Common’s performance of the song. In a show of solidarity, the New Mexico native wore all black and stood on stage while the music artists performed. The civil rights activist and labor leader has been a fierce fighter for the rights of works in California since the 1950s. She co-founded the National Farm Workers Association alongside César Chávez in 1960 and has been credited with coining the labor union’s motto of “Si Se Puede.”
Huerta and the other advocates spotlighted how so much of our country’s story has been shaped by the drive and energy of people of color.
An honor to share the #Oscars stage with @common & @AndraDayMusic as well as real-life heroes @OsopePatrisse @TaranaBurke @DoloresHuerta @CecileRichards @ChefJoseAndres @AlAbedBana @NicoleHockley & Bryan Stevenson of @eji_org & Alice Brown Otter. #StandUpForSomething pic.twitter.com/d1nzqv4qrO
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) March 5, 2018
Huerta was joined on stage by José Andrés, a Spanish chef who provided meals to survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The other activists included trans advocate Janet Mock of the #GirlsLikeUs movement, Tarana Burke of Me Too, Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter, Alice Brown Otter of Standing Rock Youth Council, Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Bryan Stevenson of Equal Justice Initiative and 8-year-old Bana Alabed, a Syrian refugee and author.