If you watched the Academy Awards on Sunday night, you might have been wondering about the girl who was onstage with Andra Day and Common as they performed “Stand Up for Something.”
The girl is Bana al-Abed, an 8-year-old refugee from Aleppo, Syria. She became famous in 2016 when she tweeted, with help from her English-speaking mother, about the bombing of her city during Syria’s civil war. The Twitter feed featured photos of destroyed buildings and pleas to people around the world for help to end the then-five-year-old war. The girl received many messages of support but also messages saying she was spreading lies.
In December 2016, Bana’s parents feared they would not survive in Aleppo, so the couple, Bana and her two younger brothers fled to neighboring Turkey. The family was given Turkish citizenship a few months later.
Bana continued to tweet, asking world leaders to help the children of Syria. She has been featured in many news stories and has written a book, “Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace.”
Day and Common invited Bana and nine other activists to be part of the performance of “Stand Up for Something,” an Oscar-nominated song from the movie “Marshall.” The film is about the first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.
The song’s lyrics say, “It all means nothing/If you don’t stand up for something/You can’t just talk the talk/You got to walk that walk, yes you do.”
Bana didn’t sing on Oscar night, but she tweeted out her own refrain: “Dear #Oscars, tonight we must stand up for the children who are dying in Syria. A child is a child whether in America or Syria.”