In less than three minutes on the Oscars stage, rapper Common and singer Andra Day recapped the last year of political controversy and called for an increase in public activism.
The musicians were performing “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, the film about the nation’s first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at this year’s ceremony.
“On Oscar night, this is the dream we tell. A land where dreamers live and freedom dwells. Immigrants get the benefits, we put up monuments for the feminists,” Common said as the performance opened, in reference to current political fights over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as well as the #MeToo movement.
The rapper also mentioned the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and their fight for gun control as well as references to Haiti and Africa, which the president controversially referred to as “shithole countries” earlier this year. “Tell the NRA they in God’s way, and to the people of Parkland, we say àse. Sentiments of love from the people, from Africa, Haiti, to Puerto Rico,” Common said. (The National Rifle Association quickly responded on Twitter, tweeting a video about its support for military veterans.)
Later in the performance, the musician also referred to the NFL players who have spent the past two seasons kneeling to protest racial injustice and police violence.
In a ceremony that has readily engaged with politics, Common also referred to the president, speaking of Donald Trump as “a president that trolls with hate.”
“He don’t control our fate because God is great,” he added.
Common and Day were joined onstage by a number of prominent activists working on a number of causes, including Patrisse Khan-Cullors of the Black Lives Matter Network, Me Too founder Tarana Burke, and longtime labor activist Dolores Huerta. According to Variety, other activists onstage included Alice Brown Otter of the Standing Rock Youth Council; author and Syrian refugee Bana Alabed; Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative; Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards; transgender rights activist and author Janet Mock; chef José Andrés of World Central Kitchen; and Nicole Hockley, managing director of Sandy Hook Promise.
“Stand Up for Something” has been a backdrop for political statements throughout this awards season. When Day and Common performed the song last month on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Day dedicated the performance to DACA recipients, also known as DREAMers.