US President Donald Trump has taken exception at Spike Lee’s Oscars acceptance speech, accusing the award-winning director of taking a “racist hit on your President”.
Lee won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay at the Academy Awards for his white supremacist drama BlacKkKlansman, sharing the honour with three co-writers.
The film includes footage of Mr Trump after the 2017 violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Without directly naming the President, Lee used his acceptance speech to speak about black history, saying his grandmother’s mother was a slave, before calling for voter action at the presidential election next year.
"Let's all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing!" Spike Lee gave a powerful and honest speech after his first-ever #Oscars win. pic.twitter.com/5Wr51v8sg0
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 25, 2019
“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilise,” Lee said to cheers from the Oscars crowd.
“Let’s all be in the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said, adding “Let’s do the right thing!” in reference to the title of his 1989 Oscars-nominated movie of the same name.
Mr Trump took the unusual step of directly responding to Lee on Twitter, accusing him of racism and defending his own record by claiming he had “done more for African Americans” than “almost” any other president.
Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
Mr Trump often touts low unemployment numbers for African-Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups among his achievements.
The President inflamed racial tensions after the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, when he said “both sides” were to blame, a comment some saw as a refusal to condemn racism.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old civil rights activist, was killed, and nearly three dozen others were injured when James Alex Fields Jr drove his car into counter-protesters.
Mr Fields claimed he acted in self-defence. A jury convicted him in December of first degree murder and other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run.