American director Spike Lee will lead the jury of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the first black person to hold the post in the event’s 73-year history.

Festival organizers hope Lee will “shake things up” among the world’s cinema elite at the festival which runs May 12-23. And anti-racism campaigners hope Lee’s appointment wakes up the French cultural world to persistent discrimination and the damaging stereotypes it perpetuates.

Lee said he was “honored to be the first person of the African diaspora” chosen for the prestigious position.

Festival organizer Thierry Fremaux said Lee is the first black president of any major film festival, calling the decision a “message of universality.” Speaking on France’s RTL radio, Fremaux said it wasn’t a political decision, but noted that black artists are underrepresented in the cinema world.

(read more at PBS.org)