Harlem Singer Petitions Oscars to Perform Gospel Hymn from Selma

February 19, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

There is perhaps nothing that can redeem the Oscars for shutting out people of color from this year’s awards, but if the committee has registered any of the criticism, then maybe its members will abide the request of Harlem gospel singer Roslyn Davis. DNAinfo reports that Davis has launched a Change.org petition requesting that Ledisi perform “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” at the 87th annual Academy Award ceremony.

The singer played Mahalia Jackson in Selma, the Oscar nominated biopic about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was Beyonce, however, who controversially performed the song at the Grammy Awards. But the song would take on a special significance at Sunday’s awards show.

This is the first time in 19 years that the Oscars panel, primarily comprised of old white men, did not include a single actor of color. And, while Selma was touted as one of the year’s best films, director Ava DuVernay was not in the running for best director. She would have become the fifth woman ever nominated, and the first black woman nominated for the category.

“The reality is that of the 40 nominations there’s not one single actor of color who was nominated nor were there any female directors or writers nominated,” said Davis. “I thought the song should be present because it’s part of our history, our song as African Americans.”

(Photo: Selma)