Tim here to kick off a daily miniseries for the team. It might seem disingenuous, if not outright perverse, to begin The Film Experience's rough chronological celebration of Black History Month by taking at peek at one of the most infamously racist movies ever made, but for good or bad, Song of the South (1946) is an important milestone in the all-too-thin history of African-Americans and the Oscars. Seven years after Hattie McDaniel's groundbreaking Best Supporting Actress win for Gone with the Wind (we recently dove deep into that film else we'd start with her) James Baskett became the very first black man to receive an Academy Award, and the last for 16 years.
Not, mind you, a competitive Academy Award. Baskett was the last adult actor to receive an Honorary Oscar for a single performance (rather than for a career), with the inscription:
For his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney's Song of the South".