Image by Fred Viebahn

Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Coconut Grove

Rita Dove


Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Coconut Grove

Rita Dove


Poem introduction

Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to receive an Academy Award. She received that award in 1940 for her role as a maid in the movie Gone with the Wind which was produced in 1939. Hattie McDaniel was torn between many varying political groups - there were those in the north who felt it was demeaning for her to have appeared as a Mammy in this southern ante-bellum epic although there were very few roles other than that for a black actress at that time. And then there were those in the south who were so outraged that her name was on the playbill and on the marquee with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh that they boycotted the theatres until her name was taken off. In 1940 when the Academy Awards were announced the ceremony took place at the Coconut Grove - a very famous restaurant - and those actors and directors and movie folk who were nominated for awards had to be let off about a block before the Coconut Grove and then they walked through the crowds to the event.

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