The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will bestow a replacement Oscar for supporting actress winner Hattie McDaniel to Howard University’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts during a ceremony titled “Hattie’s Come Home” in Washington D.C. on Oct. 1.
Taking place at the Ira Aldridge Theater, the ceremony will celebrate McDaniels’ life and legacy, her historic Academy Award win, and reunite her prize with the long-running HBCU, as she originally intended. The event will include opening remarks by Phylicia Rashad, dean of the College of Fine Arts, along with a performance of a medley of songs from current students and an excerpt from LaDarrion Williams’ play “Boulevard of Bold Dreams.”
Jacqueline Stewart, president of the Academy Museum and Teni Melidonian, executive vice president of Oscars strategy, will present the prize to the university. In addition, Stewart will also host a conversation with Rashad, Howard professors Greg Carr, associate professor of Africana Studies and chair of the department of Afro-American Studies, and Khalid Long, associate professor of theater arts at Howard, along with Thea Combs, director of curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and Kevin John Goff, filmmaker and McDaniels’ great-grandnephew.
“Hattie McDaniel was a groundbreaking artist who changed the course of cinema and impacted generations of performers who followed her,” Stewart and Bill Kramer, Academy CEO, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to present a replacement of Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award to Howard University. This momentous occasion will celebrate Hattie McDaniel’s remarkable craft and historic win.”
Rashad added, “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!”
In 1940, McDaniel made history as the first Black person to be nominated for and win a competitive Academy Award for her supporting performance as “Mammy” in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). At the 12th Academy Awards, held at the segregated Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, McDaniel and her guest were seated separately from the film’s other nominees. Before McDaniel died of breast cancer in 1952, she specified that her prize should be donated to Howard University. For years, rumors have circulated about where the plaque and statuette could be — was it simply lost, or destroyed in a protest?
McDaniel’s full speech is part of the museum’s Academy Awards History Gallery, with her win recognized as part of the Oscars Gallery of statuettes. However, it’s in a vitrine that stands empty, which the museum plans on keeping indefinitely as the other 19 featured statuettes of the room rotate, which Variety covered exclusively ahead of the museum’s opening in 2021.