Oprah Winfrey with co-star Forest Whitaker from the newly released film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” sat down with Anderson Cooper to talk about their movie and race in America.
In the interview, Winfrey clarified and expanded on the comparison she made between Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till earlier this month when she said, that in her mind, “they were the same thing.”
“The truth of the matter is, Emmett Till became a symbol for those times as Trayvon Martin has become a symbol for this time. I mean there are multiple Trayvon Martins whose names never make the newspapers or the headlines,” Winfrey told Cooper.
A contemplative Cooper then recounted a conversation he had with a juror from the Zimmerman trial, saying, “I talked to a juror on the Trayvon Martin case who clearly did not understand or did not feel linked to Trayvon Martin, they felt connected to George Zimmerman in a way, but not to Trayvon Martin, and I wonder if she felt, you know, race was not a part of this case at all.”
“People [don’t] feel that it’s race because they don’t call it race. That’s not what they call it,” Winfrey replied. “A lot of people if they think if they are not using the “n” word themselves … and do not have-harbor ill will towards black people, that it’s not racist. But you know, to me, it’s ridiculous to look at that case and to not think that race was involved.”
Winfrey explained that while she “understands” why some people choose to use that word, for her “it’s impossible … to do it because [she] knows the history.”
She continued, “Out of respect to those who have come before and the price that they paid to rid themselves of being relegated to that word, I just don’t use it.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” tells of Cecil Gaines’ story and how he served eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House. The film also reflects on the civil rights movement, Vietnam and other major events that affected Gaines’ life, family and American society.