Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo in Lee Daniels' The Butler (the Weinstein Co.)
Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo in Lee Daniels' The Butler (the Weinstein Co.)

Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, writes at the New Pittsburgh Courier that Hollywood releases like Lee Daniels' The Butler serve as poignant reminders that there are still lessons to be learned from history. He connects historical events with current events like Trayvon Martin's death and the Supreme Court's dismantling of the Voting Rights Act.

We tend to think of politicians, pundits and school books as the great troubadours of history and shapers of public opinion. But when a movie such as Lee Daniels' The Butler comes along, we are reminded that nothing moves the spirit or traces time like simple storytelling …

Hollywood has historically shied away from more serious black, historical themed movies, believing they have limited box-office appeal. In fact, the film's African-American director, Lee Daniels, had a hard time corralling 41 producers to finance "The Butler." Some critics have also claimed weariness at the retelling of the African-American freedom story. But, recent events tell us that this story isn't simply being retold; it is being relived — and there are still lessons to be learned.

After seeing the film, three observations stood out for me.

First, the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin reminds us of the 1955 murder of [Emmett] Till as described in the movie.

Second, the recent extremist and Supreme Court attacks on voting rights are wake up calls as chilling as the 1960s Freedom Ride bus bombings depicted in the film.


Read Marc H. Morial's entire piece at the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff. 


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