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The Butler Lifts Veil on White House’s Black History

WHO: Clarence Lusane, author, The Black History of the White House

The Butler, African-American History of the White House 

August 15 – ongoing

In-studio, via telephone, at American University

The much anticipated movie, The Butler, an African-American's eyewitness chronicle of notable events of the 20th century during his tenure as a White House butler to eight U.S. presidents will open on August 16. More important than its all-star cast, the movie sheds light on the important role African-Americans have played from the birth of the country to the present. From slave to President of the United States, African -Americans made great sacrifices while at the same time making important contributions in the nation’s seat of executive power says American University Professor Clarence Lusane author of The Black History of the White House (2011).

In his book, Lusane tells the complete, often painful story of racism from the actual construction of the nation’s capital including the White House on the backs of slaves to the White House during the turbulent 60s where black mobilization was a watershed moment in the U.S.’s commitment to finally set a course to civil rights equality from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While it would take a bicentennial plus a score and 12 years before the U.S. would elect its first African-American president, the White House itself is at last a place of pride for a segment of Americans who had been marginalized from within it for much of its history.  

Lusane is available to explain the transformation of the White House “plantation” where 25 percent of U.S. presidents were actual slaveholders who held African-Americans in bondage in the White House itself to the White House executive mansion where Eugene Allen, the real life butler who rose to the position of White House maitre d’ lived long enough to be invited to Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. “The White House serves as a prism to view the social struggles and progress of black Americans” says Clarence Lusane. “The Butler will serve as a popular education tool exposing generations of American to its turbulent past on this the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.”

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.