Civil rights are no laughing matter, filmmaker says
Published: Monday, January 20, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 11:51 p.m.
LAUDERHILL - An appearance by Spike Lee in which he criticized the movie "Barbershop" kicked off a three-day weekend filled with Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations across the state.
The filmmaker said he is concerned that young moviegoers will form their first impressions of King and fellow civil rights icon Rosa Parks from a bitter character in last year's comedy "Barbershop."
Lee told hundreds of teenagers at the Lauderhill Boys & Girls Club on Saturday that he didn't laugh when he heard a character played by Cedric the Entertainer belittle Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus.
Lee, the maker of films such as "Malcolm X," "Do the Right Thing" and the recently released "25th Hour," also didn't find it funny when the character accuse King of being sexually promiscuous.
But Lee said too many adults do laugh at those scenes. Instead, he said they should be teaching young children about the accomplishments, challenges and sacrifices of the leaders of the civil rights movement.
"To me, some things aren't funny," said Lee, 46, a native of Atlanta who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. "If our young children grow up thinking this, and that's all they know about (Parks and King), then we're in trouble."
Lee was the keynote speaker at two events Saturday honoring King's birthday.
Also Saturday, several people marched through chilly winds in Panama City to honor the slain civil rights leader and protest an impending war with Iraq.
"Martin Luther King Jr. denounced violence. We must try every means to avoid violence. We're marching for peace," said Sharon Sheffield, chairwoman for the Advisory Committee for Urban Revitalization Equity and a former Lynn Haven mayor.
In the historically black town of Eatonville, near Orlando, an estimated 20,000 people turned out for a parade Saturday afternoon. And several hundred watched another parade Saturday morning in downtown Orlando.
Alvin Cotton of Orlando said he brought his four children to the Eatonville parade to help them learn more about the civil-rights movement.
"You have to understand what we came through, what the struggle was all about," he said with his 3-year-old son, Alvin Jr., perched on his shoulders. "And this is a part of it - the celebration."
Many more celebrations were scheduled for today's holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including parades in cities like Port Salerno, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee - and others places in-between.
In Pompano Beach, Gov. Jeb Bush is scheduled to speak at a King prayer breakfast. Attorney General Charlie Crist will be in Fort Lauderdale for a morning parade and in St. Petersburg for an afternoon celebration.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article