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President Donald Trump started his Monday by blasting director Spike Lee as “racist” against him in an early morning tweet following Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony.
Trump said Lee’s acceptance speech amounted to a “racist hit” against the president.
Lee won his first Oscar Sunday night when “BlacK k Klansman” won best adapted screenplay (an award he shared with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott.)
In his acceptance speech, Lee referenced his family’s history in the U.S., which he said could be traced to the first slaves being brought over from Africa.
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people,” Lee said. “We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”
He added that the 2020 presidential election was just “around the corner.”
“Let’s all mobilize,” he continued. “Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”
Lee did not mention Trump by name in his address.
The film Lee won an Oscar for is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Taking place in the 1970s, Stallworth sets out on a mission alongside a veteran white colleague, Flip Zimmerman, to infiltrate and take down the Ku Klux Klan.
The conclusion of the film features footage from the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group of neo-Nazis and alt-right activists marched against the removal of a stature of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The marchers chanted slogans like “Jews will not replace us” while one attendee slammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one.
The film then included Trump’s response to that rally, when he said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence.
“You had some very bad people in that group,” Trump said. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Lee has been sharply critical of Trump during his presidency, nicknaming the president “Agent Orange” and saying Trump is “a man of hate, violence, and can’t be trusted to make moral decisions.”