There’s a Disturbing Truth to John Legend’s Oscar Statement about Prisons and Slavery

This Aug. 20, 2014 photo released by singer John Legend shows Legend wearing a T-Shirt that says "Don't Shoot," in reference to the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Legend performed Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going on with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (AP Photo/Ron Stephens II)
Common, left, and John Legend perform at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Common, left, and John Legend perform at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Max Ehrenfreund, THE WASHINGTON POST

 
(The Washington Post)—The artists John Legend and Common received an Academy Award Sunday night for “Glory,” their song in the film “Selma.” In his acceptance speech, Legend called for reform of the U.S. criminal justice system. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850,” he noted.

It’s true. There are some, as Politifact has written, 1.7 million black men under some form of correctional control, including probation and parole, excluding those held in local jails on any given day. That is about twice the 870,000 or so black men at least 15 years old who were enslaved in 1850, according to the Census (warning: big file).

 


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