*Attention Dr. Boyce Watkins and other “Harriet” haters, this is an open letter to you!
This film was under calls for a boycott prior to the release because of Comcast’s involvement with the film and the company’s current Supreme Court case involving the Civil Rights act of 1866.
There was also the controversial black male slave catcher who, when juxtaposed to Harriet Tubman’s slave owner became the black villain. Well, the people have spoken. The call for a boycott by some black activists failed miserably.
Director Kasi Lemmons and the entire cast and crew of the Harriet Tubman film are in celebration mode. Their film over performed and beat predictions of an $8 million dollars by opening with $12 million dollars.
My family and I saw “Harriet” on opening night in Los Angeles with a sold-out audience and in one of the most controversial movie scenes the critics use as an argument of a white savior is simply ridiculous. In a spoiler alert, the black man was a slave catcher who caught slaves for money. The white man was her former slave owner who wanted to kill Harriet himself So, he shot the black man for trying to kill her because he wanted to do it. The white man went for his gun to shoot her, but she shot his hand off, took his horse, and left him in the woods to die. He only pretended to love her because he thought he could charm her into not shooting him.
Discouraging people from seeing “Harriet” because you don’t believe that a black man was a slave catcher is ludicrous. In Los Angeles County, I can name at least 3 black leaders that are paid to keep black people in their perceived place. And in Washington DC, don’t forget these two: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson, Secretary of HUD.
This is not a white savior movie. It’s the movie to see if you want to see a heroic black woman and our people with guns and not afraid to use them. The only saviors Harriet Tubman had in the movie were her God and her pistol. This film depicts a rare portrait of the courage and bravery of a black woman who was at the forefront of the human rights struggle. Tubman’s commitment to humanity, in risking her own life several times, is one of the most incredible acts of courage in world history. Tubman made 19 trips to the South, freed 300 slaves and never lost one. She is the best known “conductor” on the Underground Railroad and after the Civil War, she died surrounded by her family at the age of 91.
African Americans have complained for decades we don’t have movies like this, and then some from our community get angry and call for boycotts of the very issue we have fought tooth and nail for.
It was 3 years ago that I organized a national coalition of civil rights organizations and activists which included Rev Al Sharpton and Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson and we demanded a change in the Oscar nominations voting procedures by then Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Black talent from director Ava Duvernay to actors Will Smith and Idris Elba had previously been shut out with no Oscar nominations for their respective work. In fact, the Academy had no black Oscar nominees for two consecutive years, which sparked a national backlash culminating in protests and a boycott of the Oscars. As the lead organizer of the protests, Boone Isaacs complied with our demands. She changed the voting procedures to include more racial diversity and women, which, without question, has led to more blacks being nominated. That fight I led wasn’t just for more Oscar nominations; it was for more black talent and artists to have an increased platform to tell our stories. The film “Harriet” does just that with dignity and honor which is a fitting tribute to our ancestors.
CEO of Project Islamic Hope