Sunday Surprise - The Butler Private Screening

This Sunday was a great day for a surprise. I found out what it's like to be party to someone's creative process. Though unknowingly pleasant, I was invited to a private screening at Cinema Concepts for a movie that wasn't revealed until we were in our seats. 

See, I told you it was private. 

William Leecan, cousin of Lee Daniels held a private Atlanta screening of a 'rough draft' of the movie "The Butler", starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey and a host of uber-talented actors.

Why such a secret? That's what I wanted to know and why are they showing us a movie that's still a rough draft? Well, William Leecan offered this special screening to get genuine reaction to the movie so that singer and songwriter Fantasia could use the movie and crowd reaction as inspiration as she wrote a song for the movie. The doors opened and in sashayed Ms. Fantasia Barrino. 

The Butler

Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm in Macon, Ga in the 1920's. His mother Hattie Pearl (Mariah Carey) was also a field a nigger but the obvious evidence and offspring of a white man's rape of his black slave. She was mixed, but it didn't offer any favorable attention. On a hot summer day, Cecil and his father Earl Gaines (David Banner) had to turn a blind eye to the rape of Cecil's mother by a white man. When Earl spoke up to defend his wife's honor, he was shot point blank while his son looked on. 

After the death of his father, Cecil took to working as a house nigger. He was tutored by the lady of the house and when he became a teen, he took off. His mother Hattie Pearl was no longer in her right mind and so he knew it was the best thing to do and what she would have wanted for him as well.

The Butler takes us through Cecil's life as a servant as well as much of America's poignant history that was relevant to niggers, Negros and African Americans. Cecil's poise and ability to be present but invisible earned him an honorable position as a butler at the White House during the Eisenhower administration. He remained at the White House well into the Reagan Administration.This movie chronicled notable moments in history while being a fly on the wall in the home of Cecil and Gloria (Oprah Winfrey).  Their personal high's and lows gave heart to a history lesson that we're only reminded of during black history month.

What I loved so much about this movie is it reminded me just how enlightened my ancestors were. Slaves were not all dark and sun-kissed; they were also of a lighter hue and they also worked the fields. Not that its a badge of honor, but it debunks stereotypes. Newly freed blacks had a raging hunger for knowledge and education that this country also lacks with our youth. The Freedom Riders was a peaceful and educated movement we could use again today. We know Dr. King was a Freedom Rider and an advocate for peaceful demonstration. Though brief, the movie gave a glimpse of who Dr. King was and revealed his need to educate and uplift whenever possible.

The Butler reminded me of the bombing of the Freedom bus, the Woolworth beatings, white and black water fountains, school integrations and the lust for equal rights. We have an inalienable right to all of that now, but it is grossly under-utilized.

My Two Cents

At one point in the movie Cecil has to reprimand his son for the use of the word nigger. He said to him, "Don't you ever use that word again. It's a white man's word and its filled with hate." The Butler shows us the love, the hate, the frustration, the fear and the joy. This movie is packed full of emotion. 

I sat next to a white girl who cried the whole movie. She didn't know.

The Butler is due to hit theaters August 16th.