In his acceptance speech, Spike Lee paid tribute to Black History Month and shared some of his family's own stories of triumphant in the face of oppression

By Alexia Fernandez
February 24, 2019 10:57 PM
Advertisement

BlacKkKlansman has taken home gold making Spike Lee an Oscar winner for the first time!

Lee’s biographical crime comedy-drama won Best Adapted Screenplay at Sunday night’s award ceremony.

The script beat out fellow nominees The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born and Can You Ever Forgive Me?

After leaping into presenter Samuel L. Jackson‘s arms, Lee took the stage to accept the award. Though the beginning of his speech was bleeped, he reportedly opened by saying, “Do not turn that motherf—ing clock on,” according to New York Times reporter Kyle Buchanan.

In his speech, Lee paid tribute to Black History Month and shared some of his family’s own stories of triumphant in the face of oppression.

The iconic director celebrated the sacrifice his grandmother made for him, revealing she “saved 50 years of social security checks” to put him through Morehouse College and NYU graduate film school. (She also affectionately nicknamed him “Spikey-poo.”)

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Oscars coverage to get the latest news on film’s biggest night.

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

Lee ended his speech — which had Jordan Peele in tears — on a political note.

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner,” he said. “Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!”

His sentiment was a call to action and also referenced Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing. The film examined race relations in a Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood and the tragic consequences of letting hate and racism go unchecked.

His powerful speech was not something he had rehearsed, as just before his first ever win — he has previously been awarded an Honorary Oscar — The Daily Show spotted the director quickly scribbling down his speech.

“While walking around backstage, I noticed a small figure hunched in a corner writing something,” he captioned a photo of the director which he shared on Instagram. “I got closer and realized it was Spike Lee writing an acceptance speech for his Oscar nominations. I asked him if I could take this picture to remember the moment and he said yes and “I hope I get to use this.””

BlacKkKlansman‘s script was based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth and follows his story as the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose a local chapter of the KKK.

John David Washington stars as Stallworth, while Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace also feature in the film.

The 91st Academy Awards are broadcasting live from Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.