Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is now an Academy Award winner.
The Roots drummer, music historian and filmmaker nabbed an Oscar for Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which won the Academy Award for best documentary feature at the 2022 Oscars.
Summer of Soul, directed by Questlove, tells the unjustly forgotten story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which included performances from Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson and more iconic artists operating in the ’60s, making the case that had this not been a primarily Black festival it would have been as well remembered and celebrated as Woodstock, which took place in New York that same year.
“It’s not lost on me that the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival should have been something that my beautiful mother and my dad should have taken me to when I was five years old,” Questlove said, saluting his late father while his mother watched from the audience in tears. “This is such a stunning moment for me right now. But it’s not about me. It’s about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain.”
Questlove, overcome by emotion during the moment, continued. “Just know in 2022, this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem. This is a story of… I’m sorry, I’m just overwhelmed right now,” Questlove said, breaking off while making a point on how Black cultural institutions and expressions are still undervalued and ignored in contemporary pop culture.
“I’m gonna get myself together and thank everyone proper when I get offstage,” Questlove said as Beyonce clapped and his mom cried.