2002: African Americans were well represented at the 74th annual Academy Awards ceremony. Hostess Whoopee Goldberg returned for her fourth highly successful stint hosting the event. Winning Best Actor in 1963 for his role in Lilies of the Field, seventy-four-year-old actor Sidney Poitier received an honorary award for his extraordinary performances in over fifty years in the business. But the main event came when actress Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win for Best Actress and actor Denzel Washington followed in Poitier’s footsteps to become the second African American man to win Best Actor. Despite the glitz of the media spectacle, some lingering doubts remained about both Berry’s and Washington’s awards. Halle Berry’s career had included many fine films, yet she won best actress for Monster’s Ball, a film in which Berry engaged in a torrid interracial sex scene with actor Billie Bob Thornton. Denzel Washington also had impeccable credentials as an accomplished actor.Despite his stellar performances in heroic roles in numerous films (e.g., Malcolm X and John Q), Washington won his Oscar for his depiction of a violent, corrupt police officer in Training Day. No one doubted Berry’s talent or Washington’s virtuosity as an actor. But one lingering question remained. Of all of the actresses and films that might have been selected, why Monster’s Ball with its depiction of Black female sexuality? Of all the films in which Washington appeared, why did he win an Oscar for such a violent part?