Common and Andra Day were responsible for inarguably one of the most powerful moments at the 2018 Oscars.
The duo hit the stage to perform their Academy Award-nominated single from the film Marshall, “Stand Up for Something," and manage to drive several important messages forward. Namely, the 45-year-old rapper, who’s unafraid for standing behind social justice movements, made the live rendition of the song political by responding to some of the biggest stories that have made headlines in the past year.
He addressed President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and its effect on immigrants, rapping, “immigrants get the benefits we put up monuments for the feminists.” He also touched on gun violence, a buzzy topic following the tragic Parkland shooting. “Tell the NRA they in God’s way,” he said: “And to the people of Parkland we say sentiments of love for the people from Africa, Haiti, to Puerto Rico.”
Andra Day, a Grammy-nominated R&B singer, urged people to “stand up for something” during her performance, which showcased her powerhouse vocals and style—she wore a Zac Posen gown and Eugenia Kim turban on stage. And while the two of them on stage alone would have done it justice, they kicked it up a notch by welcoming 10 activists that they personally selected to highlight.
So who was standing behind them during the performance? The activists included Bryan Stevenson (director of the Equal Justice Initiative), Cecile Richards (former president of Planned Parenthood), Dolores Huerta (co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America), Janet Mock (New York Times best-selling author and the first transgender woman of color to write and produce for TV), José Andrés (renowned chef and founder of the #ChefsforPuerto Rico movement), Nicole Hockley (the mother of Dylan Hockley, a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting and founder of the Sandy Hook Promise), Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), and Tarana Burke (founder of the #MeToo movement).
On stage, chef José Andrés held up a Puerto Rican flag to represent his work with the state following the hurricane.
"I am truly honored to share the stage with such powerful people," Day reportedly said about the performance in a press release. "People who work, sacrifice and have fought through their personal pain to make the world a better place. Everyone's contribution is important but Common and I wanted to show people who are working every day in the trenches to transform perceptions, circumstances, legislation, social and political landscapes, and bring hope to the hopeless."
Common shared a similar sentiment.
"If it’s one thing I learned from being a part of Selma is that an activist is someone who lives their life for what they believe in and works for that cause every day," Common said. "The activists we asked to join us on stage are people who have dedicated their lives to making the world better. For some because their own personal experiences have driven them to this place, and some because they’ve seen the injustices going on in the world and felt they had to take action."