When “The Butler” comes out on August 16, there will be three Black men that made it happen – director Lee Daniels, White House butler Eugene Allen and journalist Wil Haygood, who wrote the original “Washington Post” article, “A Butler Well Served by This Election” that inspired the movie. Haygood’s book “The Butler: A Witness to History,” Allen’s true-life story, is in stores now, though the movie version takes some dramatic liberties. You can hear Sybil’s interview with Haygood here.
For anyone skeptical of a movie about a Black man who spent years in servitude, think again. “The Butler” is much more of rich experience than you would imagine, aided by stellar performances by its varied cast including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Liev Schrieber, Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and David Oyewolo.
Haygood says the idea behind the movie came from an experience he had on the Obama campaign trail before the 2008 election.
“After a rally I came outside of this big stadium and saw two young ladies crying. They happenend to have been white young ladies and I asked if there was anything I could do,” Haygood told The Tom Joyner Morning Show. “They were crying because their father stopped speaking to them because they supported this African-American candidate and they were not going to change their minds because they had angered their father. It was a very powerful moment.
I said to myself, Senator Barack Obama is going to win. I just told myself. He was still down in the polls, Hillary Clinton was still in the race, but I told myself he was going to win. And when he does win, I want to be ready with a story from someone from the era of segregation who has worked in the White House. I launched a nationwide search and he was right here in Washington, D.C.”
Allen served in the White House from 1952 -1986, through 8 administrations spanning Truman to Reagan. In the movie, his personal story is used to showcase the country’s changing views of racial issues in America. Allen is not a progressive character – that side is shown through his rebellious son – but what happens to him is also reflective of the evolution of Black America.
“I found him here in Washington, D.C. He lived on a little quiet street, just him and his wife,” Haygood says. “On the eve of the 2008 election, the day before, his wife told their only son Charles that she was so happy because a writer had come by and somebody was going to write a story about her husband. She said ‘I’m so at peace,’ and then went upstairs to go to bed and died. Three days later my story came out on the front page of the Washington Post and now it’s this big, epic Hollywood movie.”
Haygood’s book “The Butler: A Witness to History” is in stores now. “The Butler” is in theaters on August 16th.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25