Today G.E. and I finished off one fine Labor Day weekend by going to see Lee Daniels’ The Butler, starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah – what IS Oprah’s last name anyway? The film is inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who served in the White House from the Eisenhower to the Reagan administrations. (Remember that when a movie is “inspired” by actual events, there is very little correlation between the two.) Nevertheless, the movie was excellent, and it served as a time-warp for us both as we sat through some of the tough times of the 50s and 60s.
While we remember the Civil Rights’ headlines and the TV news stories, G.E. and I both remarked how insulated we were from the horrors of those events. Growing up in Utah and Idaho, we knew very few African-Americans. In fact, I can only remember one girl I worked with at Fargo’s Department Store in Pocatello. We often met in the break room at the same time and talked of ordinary, but unimportant, things. So that brings me to the other reason I’d like to that that trip back in time: to be more aware of all that was happening around me; to take a serious interest in those world-shaking events, and to do something about them. Not always big things, but something more than nothing – regardless of the distance between Idaho and Alabama.