Eddie Murphy's Epic 1988 Oscars Takedown Resurfaces After He and Other Black Stars Snubbed

In the midst of the uproar over the 2020 Oscars nominations, a famous clip of Eddie Murphy has resurfaced. The comedian presented the award for best picture at the 1988 Oscars, where he challenged the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on its skewed racial representation, long before the hashtag "Oscars so white" went viral.

Murphy was at the height of his fame in 1988 when he first presented an Oscar. He had already done his iconic stand-up specials Raw and Delirious, and movies like Trading Places, Coming to America and the first two installments of Beverly Hills Cop. However, he made no secret of his disdain for the Hollywood establishment.

In his Oscars speech at the time, he recalled a conversation with his agent where he tried to avoid the invitation to present an award. The speech went viral on Monday, as it was still relevant, many people thought.

"They came to me and said that they wanted me to present the award for best picture — my manager came and told me that the Academy had picked me," he said. "My first reaction was to say 'no, I ain't going.' My manager said 'but why?!' I said 'I'm not going because they haven't recognized black people in their motion pictures!'"

The crowd rumbled with mixed laughter and chatter at Murphy's words. He played out this argument in his recounted conversation with his manager.

"He said 'What are you talking about, black people win Oscars!' I said 'well, black actors and actresses have won Oscars throughout 60 years.'"

Murphy went so far as to say that this speech might effect his chances of winning an Oscar himself in the future, saying: "I'll probably never win an Oscar from saying this, but hey, what the hey, I gotta say it."

"Actually," he went on, "I might not be in any trouble, because the way it's going it's about every 20 years we get one, so we ain't due till about 2004, so... By that time this will all blow over."

Murphy did not even tie a neat bow on his story, ending with conviction that he was right and his manager was wrong.

"I said I wasn't going, but my manager said 'you just have to go, you can't snub the Academy.' So I came down here to give the award... But I just feel we have to recognize as a people — I just want you to know that I'm going to give this award, but black people will not ride the caboose of society, and we will not bring up the rear anymore! And I want you to recognize it!'"

Still, in spite of his poignant message, Murphy could not resist ending on a punchline.


"He said 'alright, fine! It's done!' and I said 'when do I have to be there?' He said, well you don't have to get there until about 9 or 10, because it's the last award of the evening,'" Murphy said. "So... in keeping with the great old Hollywood tradition, the pictures nominated for best picture are..."

The resurfaced clip follows a day full of social media debate about the 2020 Oscars nominations, particularly as it pertains to representation. Many fans thought Murphy himself had been snubbed, as he was not nominated for his performance in Dolemite is My Name. The movie is streaming now on Netflix.