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Hattie McDaniel, first Black actor to win an Oscar, will have her missing award replaced by the Academy

By Dan Heching, CNN

(CNN) — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – organization behind the Oscars – will posthumously honor Hattie McDaniel by reinstating her missing best supporting actress Academy Award, which she won in 1940 for “Gone With the Wind.”

AMPAS, along with the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, announced on Tuesday that it will gift a “replacement” Oscar to the Howard University Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts during a ceremony titled “Hattie’s Come Home” on October 1.

McDaniel was the first Black performer to win a competitive Academy Award for acting, for her supporting role as Mammy in 1939’s “Gone with the Wind.” At the 12th Academy Awards ceremony in 1940, McDaniel was seated separately from the film’s other nominees at the segregated Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, the AMPAS press release detailed.

In her acceptance speech at the time, McDaniel said her win “has made me feel very, very humble and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.”

Upon her death in 1952, McDaniel bequeathed her award – which was a plaque as opposed to a statuette, customary for supporting actor awards given in the late ’30s and early ‘40s – to Howard University. The award was displayed in the university’s drama department until the late 1960s, but its current whereabouts are unknown, according to AMPAS.

Next week’s ceremony will include opening remarks by Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University.

“When I was a student in the College of Fine Arts at Howard University, in what was then called the Department of Drama, I would often sit and gaze in wonder at the Academy Award that had been presented to Ms. Hattie McDaniel,” said Rashad. “I am overjoyed that this Academy Award is returning to what is now the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University. This immense piece of history will be back in the College of Fine Arts for our students to draw inspiration from. Ms. Hattie is coming home!”

After McDaniel’s history-making win, it would be another 51 years before another Black woman would win an acting Oscar, when Whoopi Goldberg took home the prize for “Ghost” in 1991.

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