Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a much better man than I am.
Farrakhan hasn’t filed a lawsuit for slander against the producers of the television movie “Betty and Coretta” or against executives of the Lifetime Network, but he could.
The film debuted on Lifetime last Saturday night. It repeated Sunday afternoon and twice Monday night. It airs again this Saturday night.
“Betty and Coretta” tells the story of how the widows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. – Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King – coped with the deaths of their husbands.
Angela Bassett plays Coretta Scott King; singer Mary J. Blige plays Betty Shabazz. When I saw Lifetime promos for the movie, I questioned the casting of Blige as Betty Shabazz.
I dismissed Blige as a singer with little to no acting talent. But then it dawned on me that I was being unfair to the woman.
I’d never seen Blige act in anything. How, then, could I gauge her acting chops?
Fact is, I couldn’t. At least not until I saw the movie. And having seen it, I’ll concede that Mary J. didn’t do a half bad job.
Trust me, she’s no Cicely Tyson or even an Angela Bassett. But for a woman whose main profession isn’t acting, Blige was, while not great, more than adequate.
So I had no bone to pick with the movie’s producers about the casting of Blige. I DO have one to pick with them about the constant references in the film to Farrakhan being behind Malcolm’s assassination on Feb. 21, 1965.
This is REALLY old stuff, so old I’m amazed that Lifetime network honchos and the film’s producers dared to dredge it up.
Yes, it is true that in December of 1964, Farrakhan wrote a scathing denunciation of Malcolm that appeared in “Muhammad Speaks,” the Nation of Islam’s newspaper.
In his screed, Farrakhan wrote that Malcolm “was worthy of death.” But years later, Farrakhan had to concede that his words contributed to the climate of hatred, acrimony and retribution between NOI members and Malcolm’s followers that led to the assassination of Malcolm X.