The Root Talks With Louis Gossett Jr. on Post Oscar Blues

A very good interview with Louis Gossett Jr. on the triumphs and challenges of winning an Oscar and then struggling to find work in the aftermath. Gossett speaks glowingly of working on the groundbreaking TV mini-series “Roots,” how he started out, battling alcoholism, and his current work with his foundation Eracism. Definitely worth the read.

Check it out here.

                                        Image courtesy of The Root

A Salute to Black Military Film Roles on This Memorial Day

Today we remember all of those who risked their lives and who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Film has often done an excellent job of telling these various war stories and allowing us to get more of an intimate look at the men and women behind the uniforms.

For black veterans the medium of film has also served as a way of illuminating their stories to the mainstream public at large. Whether it was due to racism or simply just being forgotten about, film has allowed the stories of more (certainly not enough though) veterans of color the opportunity to not only have their stories told, but get the proper due for their heroism.

Here are some films featuring African Americans and their roles in the armed forces and protecting our freedom:

Louis Gosset Jr. “An Officer and A Gentleman” (1982)

Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman “Glory” (1989)

Samuel L. Jackson  “Assualt at West Point” (1994)

“The Tuskegee Airmen” (1995)

Cuba Gooding Jr. “Men of Honor” (2000)

With the exception of “An Officer and A Gentlemen,” all these films are based on true events. Truth be told, I would have known a lot less about these people and their stories if not for their onscreen depictions. In fact, these movies did more than educate. One of them even cleared a name.

The film “Assualt at West Point,” which featured Samuel L. Jackson, was based off the true story of Johnson Chestnut Whittaker, who was the first black man to be accepted into West Point. Whittaker was assaulted by his peers and accused of faking the incident. Whittaker was found guilty and subsequently expelled in 1881. By the time “Assualt at West Point” had aired in 1994, a movement to clear Whittaker’s name was in full effect, and in 1995 then President Clinton presented a posthumous commission to Whittaker’s family.

It is important that we not forget the sacrifices of those who have served in the armed forces have made for us on this day. Not everyone has a movie made about their lives or achievements, but every person who has ever fought for this country certainly deserves the respect and gratitude of all Americans on this Memorial Day.

Louis Gossett Jr. on Blaxploitation Films and Black Actors

 “. . . The responsibility for film imagery must be extended to the producers who come up with these scripts. The blame can’t be placed on black actors because they have to work – any place and any time they can. They have rent to pay just like everybody else.”

                                      – Louis Gossett Jr., NY Amsterdam News, 1974