|Forrest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines - The Butler|
On Saturday I went to see the movie The Butler. It was the first time I have ever gone to see a movie on opening weekend. So when the numbers were listed this morning that it had topped the Box office with $25 million dollars I was proud to be a part of it winning the number one spot for the weekend.
Let me start by saying I love Forrest Whitaker. He is an excellent actor with the most expressive face which was a great asset for this movie.
The Butler covers a period spanning from 1926 to 2008. Cecil Gaines was a young boy working in the cotton fields of Macon, Georgia (my family is from this area). The son of the owner of the cotton farm raped Cecil's mother on a regular basis. When his father tried to speak up for his wife, the owner's son killed him, and his mother had a nervous breakdown. The owner's wife took Cecil to the main house and taught him to serve. Her main lesson was to tell him that he must learn to be invisible, the guests must never know he was in the room. He called upon this lesson often when he became a butler in the White House.
This movie was very emotional for me. In addition to chronicling the life of Mr. Gaines, it also showed very eloquently the struggle between the African-American generation of the 20's and 30's who were taught to be seen and not heard and the young African Americans of the late 50's and 60's who wanted to be seen and heard during the Civil Rights Movement. I remember my father not allowing me to wear an Afro hair style in 1969. As long as I lived in his house I had to follow his rules. I also remember being told that in order to get promotions and be taken seriously on my job I had to stop wearing my big Afro.
This movie was a reality gut check for me. It brought tears to my eyes and left me feeling very somber. As an African American I can never forget where I come from and that I am very proud to be who I am.
After serving eight Presidents Cecil Gaines retired. He campaigned for President Obama as best he could given his advanced age and went to the Inauguration. He echoed what many felt, never in my lifetime could I have dreamed we would have an African American President.
Cecil Gaines was man of dignity and strength. In his own humble way he was a Civil Rights Pioneer. The movie the Butler made me very proud.