This Day in Black History: April 10, 1972

This Day in Black History: April 10, 1972

On April 10, 1972, Sammy Davis Jr. became the first African-American to host the Academy Awards ceremony. Isaac Hayes became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song with "Theme From Shaft."

Published April 10, 2014

Notable entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. became the first African-American to host the Academy Awards on April 10, 1972. Renowned actors Alan King, Helen Hayes and Jack Lemmon shared hosting duties with Davis at the 44th annual event.

Another Black History moment was made that night when Isaac Hayes won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Theme From Shaft." The singer-songwriter and actor became the first African-American to win that award (or any Academy Award in a non-acting category.)

Only five other African-Americans have ever hosted the ceremony: Diana Ross in 1974; Richard Pryor in 1977 and 1983; Whoopi Goldberg in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2002; and Chris Rock in 2005. 

Eddie Murphy was scheduled to host the Academy Awards in 2012, but stepped down from the position amid controversy surrounding his friend, blockbuster director Brett Ratner.

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(Photo: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank)

Written by Patrice Peck

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