The Oscar Awards' first black winner, Hattie McDaniel, wasn't allowed to sit with her co-stars

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The Oscars Have a Long History of Racial Controversy

One of the most talked about stories surrounding this year's Academy Awards is the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, prompted by a lack of diversity in the award show's nominations.

Racial issues have plagued the film industry for decades, as highlighted by the first black Academy Award winner, Hattie McDaniel. McDaniel won the award in 1940 for her portrayal of a slave named Mammy in "Gone With the Wind." She starred opposite Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland in the award-winning film and was one of the most important members of the cast.

But when McDaniel attended the 12th Academy Awards at the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel, she wasn't greeted as warmly as her co-stars.

McDaniel, who was one of the most famous black actors of the time, arrived at the show in a rhinestone-studded, stunning turquoise gown and wore white gardenias in her hair. She had an escort, F.P. Yober, and her white agent, William Meiklejohn, but when she entered the ceremony she was not shown to the "Gone With the Wind" table where her white co-stars sat, instead she was taken to a small table in the back for the room. The hotel, at the time, had a strict no-blacks policy and "Gone With the Winds"' producer David O. Selznick had to get the hotel to make a special exception just for her to attend, The Hollywood Reporter revealed.

After the Academy Awards, McDaniel had to celebrate elsewhere too, as the clubs were still separated in the 1940s.

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The Oscar Awards' first black winner, Hattie McDaniel, wasn't allowed to sit with her co-stars
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 14: Hattie McDaniel, star of the CBS Radio program, The Beulah Show. November 14, 1947. Hollywood, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Hattie McDaniel talking to Jeanne Crain in bedroom in a scene from the film 'Margie', 1946. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 28: The Beulah Show, CBS radio program, features Hattie McDaniel (as Beulah, a maid for the Henderson family), Ernie 'Bubbles' Whitman (as Beulahs boyfriend, Bill). Here they take time to prepare for (Christmas) (New Years Eve). Hollywood, CA. November 28, 1947. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Portrait of American actress Hattie McDaniel (1892 - 1952) holding her Academy Award from the film 'Gone With the Wind,' 1940. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) in a CBS Radio studio with actor Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973, left), 1941. McDaniel won an Oscar in 1940 for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in 'Gone With The Wind', making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award. The man on the right is holding a document bearing the crest United Service Organizations. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Oscar-winning actress Hattie McDaniel, who plays the role of the house servant Mammy in Gone with the Wind by Victor Fleming. United States, 1939. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Lobby card from the movie 'Margie' (20th Century Fox), starring Jeanne Crain and Hattie McDaniel, 1946. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
Hattie McDaniel tries to console Vivien Leigh in a scene from the film 'Gone With The Wind', 1939. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Publicity still portrait of Hattie McDaniel in the film 'Hypnotized', Mack Sennett's blackface comedy starring George Moran and Charles Mack, 1932. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
VIVIEN LEIGH & HATTIE MCDANIEL GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
HATTIE MCDANIEL & VIVIEN LEIGH GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
movie, "Gone with the wind", USA 1939, director: Victor Fleming, scene with: Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel, servant, dressing
GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 MGM film with Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara taunted about her curtain fabric dress by Belle Watling
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Vivien Leigh
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Vivien Leigh, Oscar Po
Gone with the Wind, USA 1939, aka: Vom Winde verweht, Regie: Victor Fleming, Darsteller: Hattie McDaniel, Clark Gable
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Much like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are planning to do this year, McDaniel's co-star Clark Gable considered skipping the awards ceremony over segregation. McDaniel reportedly had to convince Gable to change his mind.

Although McDaniel got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she still faced discrimination after her death. She was denied a spot in the Hollywood cemetery due to her race.

Hollywood has certainly come a long way since McDaniel's Oscar win, but there's still progress to be made. It took 50 years for another black actress to take home an Oscar, when Whoopi Goldberg won for her role in "Ghost."

PHOTOS: Gone With the Wind's biggest moments

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