Singer John Legend, who shared an Academy Award with Common for “Glory,” voted the best original song, spoke out courageously Sunday night during his acceptance speech when he talked about the number of black men who are under correctional control in the U.S.
“There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850,” Legend told a worldwide audience of 36.6 million total viewers.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., and Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, also have talked about the large numbers of black men under correctional control, but neither Holder nor Mauer had the audience Legend had Sunday night.
The Sentencing Project noted in a research paper titled “Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System,” that 1 in 3 black men born in 2001 were likely to spend life in prison compared to 1 in 16 white men. African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million individuals who are incarcerated.
The audience inside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the Academy Awards were held, greeted Legend’s comments with tepid applause, although there were a few cheers.