(Actually leap year Feb. 29, 1940) Screen Actors Guild member Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award, honored for her portrayal of “Mammy” in “Gone with the Wind.” Click on the video below to see and hear McDaniel accept the award.
McDaniel's emotional, and inspiringly brief, remarks don't allude to the fact that she and her escort were seated at a table near the kitchen, far from the podium and her fellow "Gone with the Wind" cast members' table. Two months prior, Georgia's segregationist laws prevented her from attending the Atlanta premiere.
It would take the Academy over two decades to single out another African-American actor's performance---Sidney Poitier, 1963's Best Actor for his performance in "Lilies of the Field."
- Open Culture