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‘We men, ain’t we?’

September 3, 2010

Tonight’s Friday Night Movie presentation will be the 1989 film, “Glory,” for which Denzel Washington won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and became a star. The movie tells the true story of the first African-American army regiment–the 54th of Massachusetts–which distinguished itself by leading the charge on a Confederate fort in South Carolina during the Civil War.

“Glory” came out when I was a junior in high school and my high school buddies and I watched it at least four times in the theater. As kids, white and black, growing up in Washington, DC during the crack epidemic of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and attending the tense and violent DC public schools, we saw a lot in the movie that resonated with our experience of racial and class tensions. And in particular, we found it compelling and inspiring to see the white and black characters in the movie struggle to get along with each other despite all those tensions. Here we are, more than 20 years after that movie and almost 150 years after the Civil War and we’re still struggling to get along. But we’ve got to keep struggling on.

Here’s the scene from the movie when the soldiers pray together the night before they are to go into battle:

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