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The Whole Staircase: Films Celebrating 400 Years of African American History & Culture

The ButlerThe Butler (2013)

"Inspired by a true story, Cecil Gaines is a devoted husband, father, and White House butler who served eight Presidential administrations during the turbulent politics and civil rights battles of twentieth century America." distributor's summary

Dr. Tiri Fellows, professor of American Sign Language, selected this film and will present it at the St. Augustine screening. Dr. Fellows selected this film because she grew up very close to Washington, DC - as well as attending and working at Gallaudet University which is in the heart of the political scene that surrounds the DC metro area.  As Dr. Fellows explained, "The film takes us inside the White House and showcases the parallel lives of individuals who face internal struggles to make decisions that are ethical and "humane."  The movie also focuses on reinforcing the perseverance of the African American community through challenging political milestones with one goal in mind: peace, empathy, and equality for future generations of African Americans." 

Dr. Fellows earned her Ph.D. from Capella University, Master’s of Science from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), and Bachelor of Arts from Gallaudet University.

Screening Dates and Locations

Screening with Dr. Tiri Fellows
Date: September 18, 2019 
Location: St. Augustine Campus Library, room L-112
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Sign language interpreters will be present at this event. 
All are welcome to this free event!
Film Screening (no presenter) 
Date: September 26, 2019 
Location: Palatka Campus Library

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Members of the Race Issues Study Circle will be in attendance. All are welcome to this free event!

Film Information: The Butler

Based on the novel by Wil Haygood. Directed by Lee Daniels. 

Run time: 132 minutes

This film is rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking.

Closed captioning available.

Licensed through Swank

Resources for Further Exploration: The Butler

Online Resources

A butler well served by this election - Article about Eugene Allen by Wil Haygood

Lessons of The Butler still relevant today

Diversity and Dissent in Lee Daniels' The Butler - Essay by By Nusrat Choudhury, Deputy Director , ACLU Racial Justice Program

The Story That Inspired Lee Daniels' The Butler - Lee Daniels' forward to Haygood's book

'The Butler': 'It's Not A Movie — It's A Movement' - NPR interview with Lee Daniels about the film

Celebration • Education • Reflection

H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102, the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, establishes 2019 as a year of "commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies, at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619."  The commemoration is intended “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African-Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African-Americans to the United States.” In recognition of this commemoration and with the Act serving as a guide, the SJR State Library has organized a year-long series of events that will provide educational experiences and resources to students and the community that celebrate the history and culture of African Americans.

Site created and maintained by Dr. Christina Will. Pages will be added and maintained throughout 2019.
Maintenance will cease at the end of 2019 but this site will remain accessible.