I’m currently watching an amazing performance by none other than Laurence Fishborne in the filmed version of “Thurgood.” It’s George Stevens Jr’s iconic one-man play which follows the life of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall - one of America’s most respected yet oddly-enough mysterious political figures.
Its most recent premiere was in April 30, 2008 at the Booth Theatre in New York, but lucky for me HBO decided to air it in honor of Black History Month. I cannot stress enough the necessity of having more Black Theatre like this if we are ever going to truly understand ourselves as a people and as fellow Americans in this country.
"Thurgood" delves into the personal struggles of a single man in charge of pushing against a towering wave of doubts and criticisms stemming from not only his political rivals but from his own people as well. But what makes me happy is that this piece goes beyond simplistic and cliche truisms like: Racism is Bad or See How Far We’ve Come? Instead it explores two monumental themes: Man vs. Society and Man vs. Fate.
Now I don’t like to vouch for many things either than obscure indie bands and skinny jeans, but HBO recieves my highest respect for showing this as their way of honoring “Negro Heritage Month.” They didn’t choose to be
ignorant lazy and pick out a hood film like “Killa Season” or even another poorly-written embarrassing movie from the monster they call Tyler Perry.
They did their research.
Honestly, I never really put much emphasis in Black History Month - simply on the basis that it usually ends up with people beating the dead horse that is MLK, and White friends who get very very uncomfortable for about 28 days or so. But this was different. I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long time in regards to this holiday: pride.
Anyway, I’ll get off my
Soap Box Black Box for now and just leave you with one of my favorite lines in the play:
THURGOOD: Martin Luther King: great leader. But he would dump all his legal work on us - including the bills. Oh I had a lot of fights with Martin about his theory of disobeying the law. Look see I didn’t believe in that. My approach was the use the law, not to break it. Told Martin, I said: “You have two rights: you have a right to disobey the law, you also have the right to go to jail for it.” And you know Martin kept talkin to me about Henry David Thoruogh’s “Civil Disobedience.” I would remind him: Thorough wrote “Civil Disobedience” in jail…
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