John Legend and Common's song "Glory" from the film "Selma" won an Oscar for best original song last night.
The movie tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the hundreds of civil rights protesters who marched for racial equality in Alabama 50 years ago.
"Nina Simone said it's an artist's duty to reflect the times they live," Legend said, referring to the singer and activist. "Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now."
Legend cited voting rights and the incarceration rates of black men.
Backstage, he said there was still a lot to be done.
"When you think about equality and freedom and justice, we've got more work to do," he said.
Common, who also had an acting role in the film based on the historic 1965 march, said it was their duty to speak out, given the stage and setting of the Oscars.
"How could you not say anything, especially representing a film like 'Selma'," he said.
Common credited Oyelowo with ensuring "Selma" was made by getting director Ava DuVernay on board and involving Oprah. The singer said he had called up Legend while he was on tour in London inquiring about collaborating.
"That word really inspired me," Legend said of "Glory". "The song should sound triumphant."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.