Common used his Oscars performance to condemn Donald Trump’s “hate” and the National Rifle Association.
The American rapper’s performance of “Stand Up for Something” with singer Andra Day has been held up by many as one of the highlights of this year’s Academy Awards.
In keeping with the explicitly political message of the rendition, the pair were joined on stage by 10 activists who Common and Day personally invited.
“In American life, there are these people who abandon comfortable circumstances and take on issues that are bigger than themselves. And that is a thankless, thankless job to take on,” Dave Chappelle said when introducing the performance on Sunday night.
Common and Day decided to illuminate the campaigners with spotlights in an effort to show the real world activism they engage in day-to-day.
The rapper shared a list of the activists, which included Black Lives Matter’s Patrisse Cullors, former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, the Me Too movement’s Tarana Burke, and Nicole Hockley from Sandy Hook Promise, an organisation that trains students and adults to recognise the signs of gun violence.
“If it’s one thing I learned from being a part of Selma it’s that an activist is someone who lives their life for what they believe in and works for that cause every day,” Common said in a statement before the awards show.
“The activists we asked to join us onstage 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.“
Common also used the performance to condemn the NRA – the powerful pro-gun lobbying group which donated more than $30m (£21.4m) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“Tell the NRA they in God’s way and tell the people of Parkland we say àse (a West African philosophy about creating change). Sentiments of love for the people from Africa, Haiti, to Puerto Rico,“ Common said at the beginning of the performance.
Seventeen students and staff members were killed this in the 14 February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The NRA responded by tweeting a video to Common and the Academy about the NRA’s commitment to honouring American veterans.
Common also used the performance to criticise the President and voice his support for immigrants.
He said: “These days we dance between love and hate. … A President that trolls with hate. He don’t control our fate because God is great. When they go low we stay in our heights. I stand for peace, love and women’s rights.“
This line refers to a 2016 election plea by former first lady Michelle Obama, who famously said: ”When they go low, we go high.“
The activists who appeared alongside Common and Day were:
Alice Brown Otter, just 14 years old, was a prominent voice in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests which are also known as the #NoDAPL movement. In the summer of 2016, she ran 1,519 miles from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to the front steps of the Army Corps of Engineers office in Washington DC to show her opposition to the the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on sacred burial grounds.
Bana Alabed is an eight-year-old Syrian refugee from Aleppo whose tweets describing her family’s personal nightmare while living there gained international attention and inspired her to pen a book called Dear World which came out last October.
Patrisse Cullors is a queer activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, is the director of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of Just Mercy. Stevenson has challenged bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system – him and EJI won relief for scores of people wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.
Cecile Richards is a lifelong activist for women’s rights and social justice. She has served as the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for over a decade.
Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, is the founder of the Me Too movement. She is known for being the first to use the phrase “Me Too” back in 2006 to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse and assault in society.
Dolores Huerta, the president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, co-founded the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez in 1962. She has gained a number of awards, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Janet Mock, the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty, is a transgender rights activist. The books focused on her journey as a young trans woman.
José Andrés is a Spanish-American chef often credited for bringing the concept of small plates dining to the US. He served more than 3.3 million meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed the country last year, reaching communities in need across all 78 municipalities via 23 kitchens. He was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and Outstanding Chef and Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.
Nicole Hockley is the mother of Dylan Hockley who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012 which saw 26 students and teachers killed after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire. She is the founder and managing director for Sandy Hook Promise – the non-profit organisation founded and directed by several family members who lost loved ones at the primary school shooting.