Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Butler

There was a time when being a domestic paid little; came with long hours and an aura of shame. Shame came into play as people of color embraced opportunities for education and secured livable wage jobs. Sadly, as we prospered, respect for the toil that placed food on the table and clothes on backs, disappeared. So too did our stories. Stories that reminded us to be grateful for what those who went before us endured. 
On August 16th, 'The Butler' will premiere on screens in theaters we of color were once prohibited from entering. I invite you to partake of the authorized preview.
Also, if you haven't had the opportunity to read the novel, a synopsis is provided for you below.
When acclaimed Washington Post writer Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Obama would win the 2008 election, he thought he’d highlight the singular moment by exploring the life of someone who had come of age when segregation was so widespread, so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served no fewer than eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. During his thirty-four years of service, Allen became what the Independent described as a “discreet stagehand who for three decades helped keep the show running in the most important political theatre of all.”

While serving tea and supervising buffets, Allen was also a witness to history as decisions about America’s most momentous events were being made. Here he is at the White House while Kennedy contemplates the Cuban missile crisis; here he is again when Kennedy’s widow returns from that fateful day in Dallas. Here he is when Johnson and his cabinet debate Vietnam, and here he is again when Ronald Reagan is finally forced to get tough on apartheid. Perhaps hitting closest to home was the civil rights legislation that was developed, often with passions flaring, right in front of his eyes even as his own community of neighbors, friends, and family were contending with Jim Crow America.