New York

Rev. Al Sharpton Holds #OscarsSoWhite Protest Ahead of Academy Awards

The Rev. Al Sharpton led a protest in Hollywood Sunday before the Academy Awards as part of a series of nationwide demonstrations over a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry.

Sharpton and activists from a variety of civil rights organizations gathered at 2 p.m. outside Hollywood High School on Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, near the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars were set to take place.

Sharpton also delivered a sermon Sunday morning at two historic churches, including First AME Church of Los Angeles.

Sharpton's National Action Network will stage protests in cities across the country, including Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Washington, D.C.

The group plans to "take a unified stand for diversity, inclusion and justice in Hollywood,'' and encourage people to "tune out the Oscars.''

"Let's send a strong message that diversity in the film industry must be more than a hollow promise,'' according to an announcement posted by the organization.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under fire this year when all of the acting nominees turned out to be white. It's the second year in a row there has been an all-white slate of nominees.

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith -- whose husband Will Smith was overlooked for an Oscar for his work in "Concussion'' -- took to social media to announce her plans to boycott the Academy Awards. Director Spike Lee also lashed out at the Oscars for the all-white nominations.

In late January, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced a series of changes to its voting and membership procedures with the aim of doubling its female and "diverse'' membership by 2020.

The Academy's Board of Governors voted to begin "an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.''

Despite those steps, many industry observers have noted that the diversity problem is not solely with the Academy, but with the entertainment industry at large, with studio decision-makers being primarily white men.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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