By Lauren Victoria Burke
Like a meteor, John Singleton, the youngest-ever Best Director nominee in the history of the Academy Awards, died on April 29 after a stroke. He was 51.
“An inspiration to us all. John Singleton, you will be greatly missed,” the Academy of Arts and Sciences said in a statement on April 29.
At age 24, Singleton became the youngest African American—and youngest person ever—to be nominated for an Oscar. Nominated for Best Director for his 1991 film, ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ which was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The film would become a staple and a right of passage moment in the African American community.
“Time and time again, John drew upon his unique life experiences as a South Los Angeles native to skillfully showcase the African American experience in his highly acclaimed roster of films, which include ‘Higher Learning,’ ‘Poetic Justice,’ and ‘Baby Boy.’ John forced our country to reckon with the ills of our troubled history with the issue of race in ‘Rosewood,’” wrote Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who was also a personal friend of Singleton.
“He brought new awareness to the realities and pain our community faced at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic with his latest FX television series ‘Snowfall.’ All the while, John paved the way for future African American directors and filmmakers, and created opportunities for scores of young African American actors,” she added
Singleton launched the acting careers of several young African Americans on his way to notoriety. They included Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Cuba Gooding, Regina King, Janet Jackson, Taraji P. Henson, and Tyrese Gibson.
Singleton’s breakout film, ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ relayed a story that covered the territory of drugs, working class Black families and gun violence that many at the time were not ready for. Singleton’s work highlighted a jarring statistic: One out of every twenty-one Black American males will be murdered.
Currently, homicide remains the leading cause of death for Black males between the ages of 15 through 34. And, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2018, “Between 2008 and 2016, Black men were more likely to die by guns in homicides.”
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst.