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‘The Butler’ is our story

Susan L. Taylor | 8/22/2013, 11:14 a.m. | Updated on 8/22/2013, 11:14 a.m.
I attended the O magazine screening of our friend Lee Daniels’ brilliant new film, “The Butler,” followed by a powerful ...
Forest Cuba Butler

Dear Editor,

I attended the O magazine screening of our friend Lee Daniels’ brilliant new film, “The Butler,” followed by a powerful interview with the lead actors and producer that was conducted by Gayle King. Oprah Winfrey stars in the film—her first in 15 years—and there is already Oscar buzz for her; she gives a performance that will take your breath away.

Daniels’ masterful work tells our people’s story and is one of the most meaningful and moving films I have ever seen. Not only does it travel into the heart of what Jim Crow was for African-Americans—and the mighty struggle it birthed—but it brings to life that which we rarely see on screen: what love and tenderness between a Black man and woman looks and feels like. It brings forth memories of who we are and what we are going to reclaim through our healing work.

White Hollywood maintains that the challenge of ensuring that historical Black films are made is the fact that we do not attend movies like this. Of course this is not true, but the perception persists, as George Lucas noted about his battle to get “Red Tails” made. So when truth-tellers like Lee go out to finance their movies, the push for support is always a huge one. Lee’s lead actors worked without pay, and our beloved Winfrey was an investor. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is a gift to our children, community and country. Truth-telling is a pathway to healing the racism that is hurting our people and this nation.

Here is what I am asking. Let’s all get out this weekend with family and friends and ensure that “The Butler” is a box office hit, and that the industry knows we want films by us and about us. Please be intentional and spread the word widely among your extended network to take a couple of hours to see “The Butler,” which stars not only Winfrey, but also the magnificent Forest Whitaker and Terrence Howard. I promise you that the support you give “The Butler” will be returned to you in understanding and pride over and over again.

In solidarity and service,

Susan L. Taylor