*Hollywood power players gathered Monday night to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the King Legacy Awards & Benefit Gala in Los Angeles.
As expected, the lack of diversity among the 2016 Oscar nominees was a hot topic. Civil rights activist Najee Ali was among the notables in attendance, and he told EUR/Electronic Urban Report’s Lee Bailey that he’s calling on black Hollywood to join his planned boycott/tune-out in order to send a clear message.
“We’re trying to reach host Chris Rock to ask him to withdraw. We’re also asking other entertainers don’t attend, don’t participate because at this point, our unity is going to be key in sending a message to Hollywood that our talent should be respected and it should be acknowledged just like everyone else’s.”
Najee is the director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., and he says it’s “insulting that there are no black people nominated, yet you have a black host hosting white people – all white people – getting awards. That’s insulting. Black folks are good enough to entertain us but you just sit here and watch white folks get an award. Why would Chris Rock even want to host the Oscars?”
“He’s a multi-millionaire,” Ali said. “How much fame and fortune does Chris Rock need?”
Najee, an outspoken critic of law enforcement, explained that he and his supporters have a list of demands that they would like to present to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs about how “we can move forward.”
“The biggest thing we’ve heard, so far, is the reason why more blacks aren’t nominated is because the majority of those who make the nominations are older white men. All they have to do is change the rules. I’ve been a part of many organizations, so rules can be changed,” he said.
Ali believes the planned Oscars boycott will help Boone Isaacs, who is the first African-American woman to head the Academy.
“She’s not the problem. The rules and the Academy is the problem,” said Ali, who added, “We want to make her job easier and let her know that we support what you’re trying to do as far as making things better for African Americans in Hollywood. Hopefully our pressure externally can help make changes internally and that’s what she’s trying to do.”
Check out our full chat with Najee and hear more of his comments about his proposed meeting with Boone Isaacs in the clip below.