The Butler serves inspiration

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Nishe Butler | Managing Editor

Imagine the year 1926, you are in a cotton field on a hot summer day enjoying a laugh with your mom and dad and all of a sudden your mother is snatched away and taken to a nearby shed where she is brutally raped.

You hear her screams but there is nothing you can do.

You ask your father, “What is going on?”

He looks at you and simply says, “Mind your business.”

All you seem to focus on for that brief moment is your mother, naturally, so you insist that your father do something.

He stares at you with a blank look on his face, and when the man who has just assaulted your mother passes by your father he says, “Hey,” to the man.

In response, the man turns and shoots him dead in the head, in front of you – his son.

This harsh opening scene sets the tone but defies what should have been a tragic outcome of one man’s life.

The Butler was a very humbling, triumphant, and an informative look at our sometimes grim American history.

The resilience of the human spirit is found in this truly epic story.

The film takes us back to the days of slavery and the struggle of the civil rights movement that still continues today.

Cecil Gaines, the child depicted in the opening scene, is now a young man who ends up leaving the cotton farm and becoming the most valued manservant in American history thus far.

Gaines, portrayed by Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker, makes his way in the world as a distinguished steward, working his way up with steadfast grace, providing a better life for himself, his wife (Oprah Winfrey) and their two young sons.

The movie continues to unfold and we see an intimate portrait of the butler’s life in the White House of the president and first lady, and his life in the black house of a civil rights era African American family.

As his family makes sacrifices for a better life, they become as bonded as any family could ever possibly dream.

Gaines’ presidential service career began with President Dwight Eisenhower and ended with President Ronald Reagan.

This take on the film is sure to be a perspective that many Americans may have overlooked.

The movie portrays an emotional take on the strains of several American presidents as they were served daily by the butler.

The butler continued to have an unchangeable spirit through civil unrest which included the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., all while earning 40 percent less than his white counterparts, enduring for over 20 years.

It also sheds light on the fact that the African American culture played a significant role in establishing domestic careers as very respectable and dignified aspects of American history,
defying the labels of dumb, lazy, and pride less.

This picture reminds us that hatred is taught, love is felt and education is imperative to us all to understand where we have been in hopes of not returning, to take a close look at where we stand today, first individually and then collectively as a nation.

We all have a social responsibility to recognize and uphold one another.

A must see for all movie goers, The Butler is a true depiction of the tried and true American history that is part of us all.

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