Between Jussie, Kelz, racist high-end fashions and a host of other incidents, Black History Month 2019 has been a bit shaky. Folks were even suggesting we reschedule it for later in the year — like All Summer ’19! However, maybe, just maybe, all the Blackness celebrated at Sunday night’s Academy Awards may have redeemed the whole month.
The night was record-breaking. The 2019 Oscars had the most individual Black winners in the shows 91 years! Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler’s costume and product design for Black Panther made history, Regina King and Spike Lee finally received long over-due honors, Mahershala Ali scored is second trophy and much, much more. But, it was Best Picture win for the film that Ali starred in, Green Book, that had folks thinking maybe we still need to throw the whole month away.
If you’ve missed the controversy surrounding the film inspired by the true story of the relationship between jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his driver Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), then you’ve been living under a rock. Shirley’s family says the film is inaccurate, while Tony’s son and one of the film’s writers, Nick Vallelonga, stands firmly behind the film authenticity. So much so, that when asked about the controversy he doubled down on his stance.
“If you’re discussing the Don Shirley family thing, that falls on me; but Don Shirley himself told me to not speak to anyone. He told me the story that he wanted to tell. He protected his private life and all the things, other things about him, miraculous things about him. He’s an amazing man. He told me, If you’re going to tell the story, you tell it from your father, me. No one else. Don’t speak to anyone else. That’s how you have to make it. And, also, he told me, Don’t make it until after I pass away. So I just kept my word to that man. I wish I could have reached out to Don Shirley’s family. I didn’t even know they really existed until after we were making the film, and we contacted his estate for music; and then the filmmakers, we invited them all to screenings and discussions. But I personally was not allowed to speak to his family, per Don Shirley’s wishes. I’m an Italian from New York. They call that a stand up guy. I kept my word to the man, and that’s the reason for that.”
So, what are your thoughts — Was BHM redeemed or destroyed?