It was in 1940 that Hattie McDaniel made film history as the first black person to be nominated for — and won — an Oscar for her supporting role as "Mammy" in the hit film "Gone with the Wind."

The twelfth Academy Awards were held at The Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. McDaniel and her guest had to sit at a separate table far from the other nominees. The discrimination continued even after the award ceremony when her white co-star went to a "no-blacks" club to which McDaniel was denied entry.

She was also unable to attend the premiere of "Gone with the Wind" in Atlanta because it was held in a movie theater where only whites had access.

Disappeared without a trace

Hattie McDaniel died of breast cancer in 1952 and bequeathed her Oscar plaque (in the 1930s and '40s, plaques were handed out to supporting character winners) to Howard University in Washington, D.C.—one of the few institutions that preserved black history at the time. There she had also been honored by the students with a lunch after her Oscar win.

The award was displayed in a glass display case in the university's drama department, but sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s, the plaque disappeared. Since then, its fate has been unknown.

Back at university

It is at a ceremony titled "Hattie's Homecoming" that the Academy on Sunday will hand out a new Oscar plaque to Howard University, CNN reports.

When I was a student at the College of Fine Arts, I often sat and watched in wonder at the Academy Awards that had been presented to Hattie McDaniel. I am thrilled that it is now returning, this outstanding piece of history will be inspired by our students," says Phylicia Rashad, Dean of Chadwick A Boseman College of Fine Arts, as the university's drama department is now called.