Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ Part of Black History Month Celebration

BSA members

BSA members

By Jonmaesha Shadrick

College of Southern Nevada’s Black Student Association celebrated Black History Month with a viewing of Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” Feb. 17.

Events were held on campus through the month to educate, engage and promote cultural awareness and appreciation. The movie viewing was a special opportunity for many students in BSA as they had not seen “The Butler”. It was impactful to see the past half-century of African-American plight shown in the film.

“It is interesting to compare what an African American went through back then to African Americans in today’s society,” said Keisha Santos, president of BSA.

“The Butler” follows Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, as he leaves the south as a young man to find employment. He is offered the opportunity of a lifetime when he was hired as a butler in the White House. He served 34 years from Dwight Eisenhower’s term through Ronald Regan’s presidency. This afforded him unique witness to many historical events in the country from the civil-rights movement to Vietnam. During the years, the movie also explored Cecil’s family tensions with his wife Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey, and antiestablishment son, played by David Oyelowo, according to IMDb, a movie-industry database.

“The Butler” made approximately $25 million opening weekend and $117 million for its run through early February in the States, according to IMDb.

Jordan Holmes, sectary of BSA, loved the film because it showed the progression of African Americans fighting for their rights during each president’s term. He liked how the film ended with Gaines returning to the White House to meet the first ever African-American President Barack Obama. It was inspiring.

“Cecil had to work for everything, not only his rights but also acceptance from his son,” Holmes said.

Another member of BSA who attended the screening Jarrod Holmes thought Cecil’s son Louis, who participated in many civil-right movements as part of Black Panthers and Freedom Riders while his father worked as a butler in the White House, was a provocative contrast in the plot.

Santos said, “Black History Month is about celebrating the progress of what African Americans went through. It is not much of a mourning but a celebration of progress.”

Mary-Susan King, CSN history part-time instructor who saw the film, said, “It’s a one-person view of the White House. It is fairly accurate.”

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