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Al Sharpton last year (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
By Brent Lang
Rev. Al Sharpton will lead a rally protesting the lack of black Oscar nominees.
The civil rights leader and MSNBC host will orchestrate a demonstration near the Dolby Theater on Sunday right before the Academy Award broadcast begins. Earlier in the day, Sharpton will preach at two Los Angeles churches — the Second Baptist Church and the First AME Church.
The rally is being organized by the National Action Network, the civil rights group Sharpton founded and leads. In an interview with Variety last month, Sharpton said he planned to call for a “tune out,” urging viewers not to watch the awards show because voters had not recognized the work of black performers such as Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) and Will Smith (Concussion). It’s the second straight year that the acting category was made up entirely of white actors.
“If major advertisers know that people are tuning out and the ratings are down, that will impact the bottom line of the value of the Academy and the Academy has to, at some point, determine whether or not it is in their interest to continue excluding people and excluding them at what price,” Sharpton said.
Other civil rights groups won’t be joining the demonstrations. Rather than protest the awards show, the Hollywood branch of the NAACP said it will work with entertainment industry leaders to promote diversity. Some notable African-American filmmakers and talent, such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, have pledged not to attend this year’s Oscars.
NAN rallies are also planned in Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta. It’s not clear how close to the show demonstrators will be able to get. Security is expected to be tight, and the area surrounding the Dolby, where the broadcast is held, will be off limits to the general public.
Watch Angela Bassett weigh in on Oscar host Chris Rock and #OscarsSoWhite: