Tag Archives: Kentucky

The Butler: The Personal is Political

23 Aug

OPRAH WINFREY and FOREST WHITAKER star in THE BUTLER My husband and I went to movie night on $5 Tuesdays here in Portland. We finally got to see the much acclaimed The Butler.  Of course, I would probably see anything with Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, and Vanessa Redgrave.   This all-star cast did not let anyone down.  While all of them give fantastic performances, I have to say that Whitaker and Winfrey give nothing less than Academy Award winning performances.   Some may remember that Whitaker earned an Academy  Award for his stellar performance in the Last King of Scotland. However, sadly Winfrey was robbed of an academy award for her stellar performance as Sofia in one of my favorite movies of all time, The Color Purple. 

The Butler does a marvelous job of weaving threads of fiction and non-fiction to create a compelling story of one man’s awakening to the realization that the personal is political against a backdrop of our nations’ ugly history around race.  If only race relations could be relegated to the past, but they cannot be yet — we still have so far to go.   Everything we do and in every way we live our lives, we are making a political statement.

The movie does a phenomenal job capturing the series of presidents under which Cecil Gains (Forest Whitaker) serves.  While LBJ was not someone I would want to my house for dinner, he was a great president and one of his greatest legacies was the Voting Rights Act of 1964, which has now been gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Sadly, the movie also exposes the great flaws of the Reagans and how Reagan’s stand on apartheid put him on the wrong side of history.  Fonda does an amazing job of portraying Nancy Reagan.

I loved that the movie delved into the Freedom Riders and the need for the Black Panther movement.  However, I was sad that Bayard Rustin was not mentioned at all.  I am glad to see that both Rustin and Winfrey will be receiving awards later this year.

Winfrey is just as amazing in The Butler as she was in The Color Purple.  Her character, Gloria, is a complex alcoholic grappling with a husband working as a subversive — albeit he does not know his job is in and of itself subversive — and losing a son to the Vietnam War. (Another waste of human lives for a war that should never have been.)

Just to prove how much we need this movie, a theater in Kentucky has refused to screen The Butler.  So much for freedom of speech.  My esteem (while already quite low because of Rand Paul) just dropped even further.

We were glued to our seats during the entire movie and I so hope most people in the United States see this movie.  The Civil Rights Movement is not over–we still have a long way to go and we still so desperately need people like John Lewis.  Let me know what you think of the movie.

Women’s History Month 2013: Ashley Judd

11 Mar

Ashley-JuddToday we honor and celebrate a powerful woman who embraces the term feminist and stands strong against double standards. Ashley Tyler Ciminella was born in California in 1968 to Naomi and Michael Ciminella. By the time she was in school, her parents had split and her mother took her and her half-sister Wynonna back to her home in Kentucky. The girls were raised with their mother’s birth name, Judd.

Ashley attended a number of schools, graduated, and went to the University of Kentucky. She studied French and women’s studies, including a semester abroad, while she began to develop an interest in acting. Rather than graduating with her class, she drove to L.A. and worked as a waitress while she looked for acting jobs. She found some television work (including a stint on Sisters opposite Swoosie Kurtz) and quickly picked up movie roles. She has worked steadily as an actor for two decades.

During that time, she developed a passion for activism and civil rights. She is an active member of the Board of YouthAIDS. In her travels for that organization she became increasingly aware of the global problems of poverty and has worked tirelessly to engage with organizations and leaders dedicated to broad political and social change. She has worked with Women for Women International and Equality Now and in 2011 joined the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women.

Fully aware of how Hollywood treats older actresses, she also continued her formal education, receiving a a Master in Public Administration degree (MPA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2010. As a well-known celebrity with strong opinions, Judd has frequently come under fire by the Right and the press. She takes what comes and fires back, brilliantly using any attacks as an opportunity to expose hypocrisy and patriarchy.

Judd has indicated some interest in running for the U.S. Senate; she would oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) in the 2014 election if she runs. The Teahadists are so afraid of her strong, smart presence that they’ve already started the attacks. Karl Rove is running context-free quotes in ads that slam her as an “out-of-touch Hollywood elitist”–elitist theatre, white power and privileged, sounds like Rand Paul to me. Conservative e-rag Daily Caller ran an ugly piece attacking her for having nude scenes in some of her movies. (Strange that Scott Brown’s centerfold spread didn’t seem to matter to them…)

Judd takes it all in stride, simply repeating that she is a feminist and a progressive and that her values translate well to what the people of Kentucky need.  Given the hollow grandstanding exhibited by McConnell’s junior counterpart, Rand Paul, someone with real values and a dedication to justice would be a welcome addition. The idea of a Sen. Judd joining Sens. Gillibrand, Warren, and Baldwin is pretty exciting.

No matter what she chooses to do next, we can count on Ashley Judd to stand up for women and for the marginalized everywhere.

Celebrating the 14th Amendment: Long May It Stand?

9 Jul

On July 9, 1868 the 14th Amendment was passed to the United States Constitution.  Not only did the 14th Amendment overturn one of the worst U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the Dred Scott case which precluded African Americans from voting by denying them the status of U.S. citizenship, it also helped to pave the way for  the 19th Amendment and Brown v. Board of Education.  Let us not forget that Brown v. Board of Education overturned another of the bottom five worst U.S. Supreme Court rulings, Plessy v. Ferguson–the nefarious notion of separate but equal. Thank you 14th Amendment for Due Process and Equal Protection–sadly we still have yet to see you fully implemented.  On another dreary note, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United ranks down there at the bottom five as well and fully demonstrates how sullied the current court is.

As TSM celebrates the 14th Amendment, one can’t help but to revisit the tragedy that is Rand Paul, who was elected as a Kentucky  Senator during the Tea Bag Flood of 2010 while decrying the 14th Amendment. Thank goodness Republican Gov. Rick (the Bigot) Scott did not get his way as he was working with the Secretary of State in Florida to prevent people from voting. Sadly we still need to worry about bigots like Republican Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai who specifically stated that:

Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done.Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

Click here if you can stomach the video of Turzai.

Moving on to the issue of marriage equality–this seems like a no brainer here!  If all citizens are to enjoy Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment, why is the LGBTQ community being denied the right to marriage? Let’s hope that when the pending cases reach the Supreme Court we get Brown rather than Plessy!

Another Teen Suicide…

15 Mar

I compose this article with great anger and disgust. In the wake of Rep. Mike Harmon from Kentucky pushing for laws to make it legal for “Christian” students to bully gay kids about their sexuality, Nicholas Kelo Jr. took his own life after years of being bullied. Mike Harmon you and all of your other bigoted “christians” have blood on your hands! A 13 year old who was suspected of being gay has taken his own life because of bullies–who would Jesus Bully?  When do we as a nation put a STOP to BULLYING? When do we stop targeting the LGBT community.  John Boehner your defending DOMA contaminates you in a sea of hate as well. I’m afraid my anger over Matthew Franck speaking at Oglethorpe has been reignited as well. I know there are true and really good Christians out there in the world, well now is the time to use your voice! All voices of love, compassion, and courage must drown out the ugly voices of hate and bigotry. Click here to read the full article.

Bigot of the Week Award: March 4

4 Mar

"Jesus said bully the homos."

Tea Party’s favorite tea bag in Kentucky, Rep. Mike Harmon, wants to make it legal for “Christian” students to bully gay kids about their sexuality.  Harmon’s act of unmitigated hate earns his this week’s BWA. Who would Jesus bully and hate?  How proud the people of Kentucky must be. Not only do they have Rand Paul, but now Mike Harmon as well. What’s next for the state of Kentucky? Will they just start wearing their White Hoods in public? Will they reinstate slavery? Force all the homos to wear pink triangles? Sounds like an ideal place for Bobby Franklin to live. Click here to see the full article.

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