Spike Lee is never one to hide his true emotions, so when the BlackkKlansman director won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2019 Academy Awards, he did not hold back. After hopping on top of award presenter Samuel L. Jackson to accept his trophy, the audience responded with a loud standing ovation for the iconic filmmaker. Lee attempted to quiet the cheers saying, “Alright… Alright..” and then what he said next, for audiences watching at home, received five seconds of silence. Whatever Lee said was completely bleeped out.
So, what did the 61-year-old Oscar winner say that prompted ABC to cut his words out? According to New York Times TV reporter Kyle Buchanan the director said, “Do not turn that motherf***ing clock on!” And incredibly, they did not! The Academy’s show runners listened because that “Your Time is Over” music did not attempt to cut Lee’s speech short.
Dressed in head-to-toe purple, and wearing a Prince medallion around his neck, Lee went up on stage with prepared notes, hand written on yellow notebook paper, and delivered one of the night’s most impassioned speeches. He mentioned African-American history dating back to 1619, and acknowledged the magic of accepting his first ever competitive Oscar during Black History Month.
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who helped build this country. If we all connect with our ancestors, we will have love, wisdom, and we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”
Lee also thanked his grandmother, who lived to be “100 years young,” called him “Spikey Poo,” and saved “50 years of security checks” so he could attend Morehouse College and grad school at New York University.
The filmmaker, who received an honorary Oscar in 2015, then used this celebratory moment to discuss a more serious matter. Charged up he said, “The 2020 elections are right around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Let’s make the moral choice between love versus hate.”
Harkening back to his 1985 film, which was famously snubbed by the Academy Awards, Lee ended his speech by shouting, “Do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there!” to a thunderous applause. While BlackkKlansman lost out on Best Picture to Green Book, Lee’s acceptance speech was top of the night.