Barack Obama

US civil rights movie hits home for Obama

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:40am

US President Barack Obama became tearful watching Lee Daniels' The Butler, a 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 weekend and is being spoken of as a multiple Academy Award contender.

"I teared up just 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," he told radio host Tom Joyner.

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

The "Jim Crow" laws, in force from the 1870s to the 1960s, regulated at local and federal level where blacks could eat, go to school, sit on a bus, and who they could marry.

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