Al Sharpton criticized for calling 'emergency meeting' over Oscar nominations

Panel debates outrage over all-white nominees


Al Sharpton is being questioned for calling for an emergency meeting of his "diversity task force" Thursday after the Academy Awards nominated only white actors.

“The lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling, and while it is good that 'Selma' was nominated for Best Picture, it’s ironic that they nominated a story about the racial shutout around voting while there is a racial shutout around the Oscar nominations,” Sharpton said in a statement. “With all of the talent in 'Selma' and other Black movies this year, it is hard to believe that we have less diversity in the nominations today than in recent history.”

Sharpton said he will meet next week with allies to discuss "potential actions" ahead or during the Feb. 22 award show.

The Academy's female African American president Cheryl Isaac Burke said she does not believe there is a diversity problem.

"No, not at all," she told Vulture when asked about this year's list of nominees. "The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it's being discussed, and it's helpful so much for talent — whether in front of the camera or behind the camera — to have this recognition, to have this period of time where there is a lot of publicity, a lot of chitter-chatter."

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Syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock told FOX News Sharpton should focus his efforts elsewhere.

"Given all the problems facing black Americans today, it seems Al Sharpton ought to organize a whole bunch of emergency meetings on real emergencies before he has a total freak out over how the Academy Awards are playing themselves out," Murdock said.

The Blaze's Amy Holmes told FOX News she saw Sharpton's point, but said he did not go far enough. "I think it's ridiculous, it's absurd, it's appalling that not only African Americans, Hispanic Americans and the whole artistic creative community wouldn't be represented at the Oscars," she said, but also added: "We know with Mr. Sharpton, that he's never seen a racial controversy that he couldn't exploit."

Oscar-snubbed actress Jessica Chastain expressed her concerns over the nominations when she accepted her Most Valuable Player honor at the Critics Choice Awards Thursday night.

"Today is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, so it got me thinking about our need to build the strength of diversity in our industry, and to stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist agendas," the actress said. "I'm an optimist and I can't help but feel hopeful about the future of film, especially looking at all of the beautiful people in this room."

The White House also announced Thursday that they will host a screening Friday night of the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic. 

According to the LA Times, of the 6,028 Academy Award voters 93 percent are white and 76 percent are male. Halle Berry is the only African American female to win Best Actress. Four African American male actors have taken home the award. T.J. Martin is the only African American to win Best Director. Last year, "12 Years a Slave," with a predominantly African American cast, won Best Picture, and African-American actress Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.