News Brief

The Oscars Awarded Moonlight Best Picture, Confirming What We All Knew

Moonlight won the award for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Last night's Academy Awards show was by far the best in recent memory.


Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively—making 2017 the first time that two black actors have won in both categories.  Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, and Davis is now the first black woman to have won an Emmy, Tony and Oscar for acting.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the night was Moonlight winning for Best Picture. For most of us, it was the obvious choice, but given how much white folks seem to love La La Land, it seemed highly possible that Moonlight might face an upset at its expense.

We were all preparing our op-eds and angry tweets as it was wrongly announced that La La Land had won. But to everyone's delight, it was all just a Steve Harvey-inspired mix-up. The Academy actually picked the right movie, Moonlight won, and we should all relish in this victory. It was about damn time.

Moonlight is a film for the ages—a triumph for black cinema, and we're glad that the Academy was finally on the same page as the rest of us in recognizing that. More of this please.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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