Oscar winners paid tribute to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

Common performs “Glory” from the film “Selma” at the 2015 Academy Awards.
Common performs “Glory” from the film “Selma” at the 2015 Academy Awards.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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Hong Kong’s recent pro-democracy protests have been mostly ignored by Hollywood and the Western entertainment industry, but tonight two Oscar winners paid them a small tribute.

While accepting the award of best original song for “Glory“ from the film Selma, which follows the 1965 voting rights marches in Alabama, rapper Common said, “The spirt 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.”

John Legend and Common performed the song during the Academy Awards while walking across a replica of Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights demonstrators clashed with police as they attempted cross the bridge to reach Montgomery, Alabama. ”This bridge was built on hope, wielded with compassion, and elevated by love for all human beings,” Common said.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement brought the city center to a standstill for two and a half months until it was disbanded in December, but it was virtually ignored by most Western entertainers, even those visiting Hong Kong as the protests were going on. That is possibly because of China’s increasing influence in Hollywood. When saxophonist Kenny G, who regularly tours in mainland China, flashed a peace sign at the main protest site, he quickly recanted his support after Beijing reprimanded him.