26 August 2013

Lee Daniels' The Butler


This past Friday I was so thrilled to have a movie night with my bestie, Christy.  Both of us being moms it was so nice to get out and enjoy a baby free evening. Not to mention we were both really eager to see this movie on The Butler, based on a true story about Eugene Allen a black man working in the White House for 3 decades and focusing most of the story during the Civil Rights Movement.

I am a history buff so watching a movie and being able to see 8 different presidents starting with Harry Truman and ending with Ronald Reagan was more than a thrill for me!  What is so captivating in this movie is the amount of history you see in this 2 1/2 hour movie.  The story begins on a cotton plantation in 1926 and ends with the elected presidency of Barrack Obama in 2008.

As a person of color this movie truly impacted me.  Seeing the first scene with Cecil Gaines (the later butler to be played by Forest Whitaker) as a young boy working the cotton field and seeing the mistreatment of black slaves, we've heard about it, we've read it in history books, but seeing it in a film really does something to you.  It just brings back all the feelings of racism and hatred that one feels when you are "different".  It brings back all the feelings of injustice that our country allowed for 200 years.  I know this was just a movie, but the plantation owners in this movie allowed rape, murder, and mistreatment of human beings in the worst degree...and it makes me wonder how hard life must have been for blacks in our country in the 1920's all the way up to the 1960s when you see Blacks really starting to stand up for their rights with the Freedom Riders, the Sit ins and the bus boycotts they did in the south.

To think that there was a time in our country when we couldn't drink from the same water fountain.  We weren't allowed to sit where ever we pleased on the buses, we couldn't vote, we didn't receive fair wages, we weren't allowed to be served at the main counters in restaurants.  To think that schools were not integrated.  How could we have allowed this in our country?

In home school I am teaching the kids the meaning of the colors of the American flag: red for courage, white for purity, and blue for truth...but when I think of all the things that our country has done to Black Americans it just breaks my heart.  And so many people just went along with the crowd.  Survival of the fittest mentality.  People were treated so wrongly and it was just accepted.

In this movie you grow to have a heart for Cecil Gaines and his wife (played by Oprah) and their two sons.  Cecil goes out of his way to move North, away from the injustices of the South (only to see that no matter where you live in America there is still injustice).  They raise two very different boys, both who love and respect their father.  One who fights for his country in Vietnam, and one who because a huge activist during the Civil Rights Movement.

I left this movie asking myself what injustices of today am I accepting of?  Do I wear blinders?  Do I treat all people equally regardless of gender, race, religion, or origin?  Am I kind and loving to people?  Do I treat wealthy people and poor people alike?  Do I speak down to people?  Do I stand up for my beliefs and do I defend people who maybe can't defend themselves.

I thank God that I did not live in the time of the 1920's or the Civil Rights Movement.  I am thankful for the men and women who went out on a limb to stand up for my rights as a Black Woman.  The people who rode the Freedom Buses they were so brave.  The college students who participated in the sit ins.  The people who protested peacefully and were met with bats, dogs, and hoses, all in the name of liberty.

I don't think I ever would have been able to be so brave, or survived such a sad time in our history.  I'm thankful for the strides we have made as Americans and I pray that we continue to see past color, race, gender, and love each other.

This movie made me think.  It reminded me of how far we've come as a nation.  It made me thankful.



  1. I grew up in Washington,DC and volunteered at a local church to help feed those who came from far away for the March on Washington fifty years ago this week. We have come a long way but not long enough.

  2. I can't wait to see this movie! Thanks for the review :)


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