Common and John Legend were awarded the Oscar for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for their song “Glory” from Selma, and took the opportunity up on stage to deliver a timely political message.

Common & John Legend’s Acceptance Speech

Common, who’s credited as Lonnie Lynn in the “Glory” credits, was the first of the two to approach the microphone. Speaking of The Edmund Pettus Bridge that figured largely in Selma, Common said, “This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now is a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status.”

“The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy,” Common continued. “This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion, elevated by love for all human beings.”

When it was Legend’s turn to speak, he started off by saying, “Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now.”

The singer-songwriter continued, “We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.

“When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you,” Legend said. “We see you, we love you, and march on.”

Before collecting their Academy Award, beating out songs from Begin Again, The Lego Movie, Beyond the Lights and Glen Campbell… I”ll Be Me, Common and Legend performed “Glory” and received a standing ovation from the Oscar audience.

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