Lois Leveen


February 25, 2012

Oscar Trivia

Today's Civil War fact is also a bit of Oscar trivia:
Who was the first African American to win an Oscar?

That'd be Hattie McDaniel, for her role as Mammy in *Gone With the Wind.*
An offensively stereotyped character in an offensive film. But as McDaniels put it, better to make $700 a week playing a maid, than $7 a week being one.

She did both in her lifetime. And she also was part of a lawsuit to challenge racial covenants (neighborhood "agreements" making it illegal to sell or rent homes to blacks--or other groups, such as Jews).

There are a lot of enslaved women in my novel, and not a Mammy-stereotype among them. I wish McDaniel had lived long enough to see an America that's more interested in these kind of stories.
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