By Eric Renner Brown
Updated February 29, 2016 at 06:48 PM EST
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Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Public Enemy’s 1989 political anthem “Fight the Power” played as Chris Rock walked on stage at the beginning of Sunday’s Oscars broadcast, and was heard again when the credits rolled three and a half hours later. The song choice underscored the particularly controversial tone of this year’s event: After only white performers received nominations for the Academy’s acting awards for a second consecutive year, host Chris Rock repeatedly criticized the movie industry’s lack of diversity.

“I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” Rock remarked in his monologue. “Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist,” he later commented.

“Fight the Power” also bears a specific connection to Hollywood and this year’s Oscars. Public Enemy originally recorded the song for Spike Lee’s iconic 1989 film Do the Right Thing. This year, Lee did not attend the ceremony. “How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white?” the director wrote in January. “And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!” Lee later praised changes the Academy pledged to make, but still decided to skip the event.

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