U.S. President Donald Trump slammed film director Spike Lee on Twitter on Monday, calling his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards the previous evening racist.
Trump wrote, “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!”
Lee, who won the best adapted screenplay prize for “BlacKkKlansman,” jumped into the arms of presenter, longtime collaborator and close friend Samuel L. Jackson when he took the stage to accept his award with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott. The audience gave him a standing ovation.
“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner,” Lee said in his acceptance speech.
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“Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history, let’s choose love over hate, let’s do the right thing,” he concluded in a swipe at Trump, also referencing his breakout 1989 hit.
The veteran filmmaker had waited a long time to be recognized by his peers beyond the honorary Oscar he received in 2016 for his contributions to movies, after earning his first Oscar nod in 1990 for the “Do the Right Thing” script.
On stage, Lee was the epitome of excitement. After unleashing an expletive as he warned Oscar producers not to put a clock on his speech (long speeches are traditionally cut shot when music plays over them), Lee noted that his award came during Black History Month. He recited a litany of facts, among them the 400-year-old enslavement of Africans and transport to America. He also said his grandmother was a graduate of the predominately black Spelman College, despite her mother having been a slave.
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who helped build this country,” Lee said. “We all connect with our ancestors ... when we love our humanity.”
Sunday was not the first time Lee has slammed the U.S. president. Last summer, while promoting “BlacKkKlansman” on CNN, he mocked Trump, referring to him as “Agent Orange.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report