ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2015):PATRICIA ARQUETTE (ACTOR): Its our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.
NARRATION: When did the Oscars become so political a platform for Hollywood stars and their favorite causes?
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2019):MAYA RUDOLPH (ACTOR): In case you are confused, there is no host tonight, there wont be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1953):ANNOUNCER: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 25th Annual Academy Awards.
NARRATION: In the 1950s, when the Oscars were first broadcast on live TV, the event celebrated how movies took people away from the real world.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1953):BOB HOPE (HOST): Isnt it exciting to know that a lot of these glamorous stars are going to be in your homes tonight. All over America, housewives are turning to their husbands and saying, Put on your shirt. Joan Crawford is coming.
NARRATION: The viewing audience was a lot smaller than todays. Maybe thats why acceptance speeches were a lot shorter.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1961):ELIZABETH TAYLOR (ACTOR): I guess all I can say is thank you, thank you with all my heart.
NARRATION: When Walt Disney got an Oscar for best short documentary, he actually said nothing at all.
But that changed in the 1970s, when protest took the stage at the Oscars.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1973):ANNOUNCER: Accepting the award for Marlin Brando and The Godfather.
NARRATION: To support Native American activism around the country, Marlon Brando refused to accept his award for Best Actor, sending an Apache actor in his place.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1973):SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER (ACTOR): And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry, excuse me.
NARRATION: And in 1978, Vanessa Redgrave waded into Middle East politics.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1978):VANESSA REDGRAVE: You have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior.
NARRATION: Not everyone liked the new trend.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1978):PADDY CHAYEFSKY (SCREENWRITER): I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple thank you would have sufficed.
NARRATION: But things were just heating up.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1993):RICHARD GERE (ACTOR): I was really struck by this idea that there were one billion people watching this thing
NARRATION: Taking advantage of a global audience, Hollywood stars shared their views on a variety of hot button issues.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 1993):RICHARD GERE (ACTOR): To Deng Xiaoping right now in Beijing, that he will take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow these people to live free again.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2003):MICHAEL MOORE (FILMMAKER): We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2009):DUSTIN LANCE BLACK (SCREENWRITER): To all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight, very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2015):JOHN LEGEND (SINGER): There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2016):LEONARDO DICAPRIO (ACTOR): Climate change is real. It is happening right now.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2018):KUMAIL NANJIANI (ACTOR): To all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you.
NARRATION: And it was just a matter of time before the Oscars themselves became a target.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2016):CHRIS ROCK (HOST): Im here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White Peoples Choice Awards.
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2016):KEVIN HART (2016): I want to take a moment to applaud all of my actors and actresses of color that did not get nominated tonight.
NARRATION: With an election at home and tensions abroad, the 2020 Oscars are certain to be another star-studded cultural – and political – event. But who will grab the microphone?
ARCHIVAL (OSCARS, 2019):SPIKE LEE (DIRECTOR): Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Lets do the right thing. You knew I had to get that in there.