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Obama says he teared up over butler movie

US President Barack Obama says he was touched by 'The Butler', a film starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey depicting the US civil rights battle through the eyes of an African-American who served in the White House

AFP, Wednesday 28 Aug 2013
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President Barack Obama teared up watching Lee Daniels' The Butler, a celluloid depiction of the US civil rights battle as seen by an African-American who served in the White House.

The movie, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, topped the North American box office for a second straight weekend and is already being spoken of as a multiple Academy Award contender.

"I teared up thinking about not just the butlers who have worked here in the White House, but an entire generation of people who were talented and skilled, but because of Jim Crow, because of discrimination, there was only so far they could go," Obama said in an interview with radio host Tom Joyner.

"And yet, with dignity and tenacity, they got up and worked every single day," said Obama, the first African-American US president, noting that those who were discriminated against put up with a lot "because they hoped for something better for their kids."

The racially motivated "Jim Crow" laws -- which legalized at the local and federal level rules about where blacks could eat, go to school, sit on a bus, and who they could marry, among other restrictions -- were in force from the 1870s to the 1960s.

The epic film -- encompassing over 50 years of history and a dozen US presidents -- is loosely based on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, an African-American who worked as a butler at the White House for 34 years.

Whitaker plays the title role and Winfrey -- who has been a longtime supporter of Obama's political campaigns -- stars as his wife.

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