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History, and character, is served
With respect to Ralph Ellison, Forest Whitaker plays an invisible man in the new movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Not a Hollywood ectoplasm, but a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibers and liquids. Nevertheless, his character, Cecil Gaines, White House butler to seven presidents, remains invisible. Not because, as a black man in pre-Civil Rights Washington, people refuse to see him, but because, as his mentor insists, a room should feel empty when he is in it. His job is: Serve, then recede into the sandstone.
August 14, 2013