“Glory,” John Legend and Common’s stirring anthem from “Selma,” won the Academy Award for original song Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Widely tipped to take the Oscar, the song promises to “fight on to the finish” for civil rights, linking Rosa Parks’ historic refusal to give up a bus seat to demonstrations last year in Ferguson, Mo., over a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the killing of an unarmed black teenager.
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“King pointed to the mountaintop, and we ran up,” Common raps in a reference to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose activism is recounted in director Ava DuVernay's film.
In January, “Glory” won a Golden Globe, and this month Legend and Common closed the Grammy Awards telecast with a dramatic performance of the song.
Yet its ascent hasn’t come without controversy.
"Even mentioning Ferguson [in the song], I caught flak from people on Twitter," Legend recently told The Times. "They said this song would have been great if you didn't mention Ferguson. They only want to talk about race when it has the patina of nostalgia, and MLK when there's a sense of deification. They don't want to talk about race right now because it's uglier to deal with. We weren't afraid to talk about what's happening today."
“Glory” defeated “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (from “Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me”), “Lost Stars” (from “Begin Again”), “Grateful” (from “Beyond the Lights”) and “Everything Is Awesome” (from “The Lego Movie”) for the Oscar.
Last year, “Let It Go,” from Disney’s “Frozen,” won the original song prize; other recent recipients include Adele’s theme from the James Bond movie “Skyfall” and “Man or Muppet,” from “The Muppets.”