Where Was Frederick Douglass in 'Lincoln'?


While Douglass' Cedar Hill home in Anacostia may perch prominently above Washington, D.C.'s highest heights, his life and his impact on Abraham Lincoln were nowhere to be found in the film, The Root DC's Michael Shank points out.

There is much to laud in the recently released film "Lincoln," and Participant Media, which produced the film, points a principled way forward for fellow filmmakers, and their audiences, who care about social action.  Participant Media is relatively new to Hollywood, but it has done much to draw attention to issues of social, economic and environmental injustice, with "An Inconvenient Truth," "The Help," "Waiting for Superman" and "Food Inc." among its notable calls to action.

"Lincoln" is no different and does due diligence to the producer's mission, especially at a time when this nation still seems to be stuck with a painful residue of racism that remains pervasive in politics.

All of the protagonists in the film, portrayed nobly in their push for the abolition of slavery, are white — from President Abraham Lincoln to congressman Thaddeus Stevens. All of the African Americans presented in the film are in peripheral supporting roles — so peripheral, in fact, they would not be eligible for an Academy Award for the best supporting actor. Their casted and assumed roles are negligible.

 The two strongest African Americans in Lincoln are Thaddeus Steven's partner and confidante, Lydia Hamilton Smith, and Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley. But even they are shortchanged.


Read Michael Shank's entire piece at The Root DC.

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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