Singer John Legend Talks Plainly about Black Men in Prison at the Oscars

John Legend and Common. During his Oscar acceptance speech, Legend talked about the number of black men in prison.

John Legend and Common hold up their Oscars. During his Oscar acceptance speech, Legend (L) talked about the number of black men in prison.

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.


  1. Takes courage to speak out about this, knowing most don’t want to talk about or even acknowledge that it’s a real issue!

  2. White folks do not care about the plight of Blk ppl anywhere. America has taken and exploited every aspect of black life for their own gain and profit. They are done with US! So, Blk America must keep moving creatively and spiritually ahead. We will survive it all. ….and as always make it known to the world. Not because we want to but because that is why black life exist. To Lead The Way.

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