The global protests following the deaths of George Floyd and other unarmed Black Americans at the hands of police officers have many reflecting on the history of this country. This includes many Black actors, who have taken to social media to share and reflect on their own personal experiences. Now, Anthony Mackie is also reflecting by looking back on a memory that connects to Martin Luther King Jr., and it’s a special one, to say the least.
Anthony Mackie recently recalled getting to hold the premiere of his Apple TV+ movie, The Banker, at the Lorraine hotel, the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The actor got emotional as he spoke about walking onto the very balcony where King stood when he was killed and related it to the current situation the country is experiencing:
I had a movie called The Banker that came out earlier this year. I was able to do the premiere at the Lorraine hotel in Memphis Tennessee. It changed my life. It was crazy because I had never experienced anything of that magnitude, what my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles went through, coming back from war and being black in America in the fifties and sixties. I was able to stand out on the balcony where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. It blew my mind to think that this man worked so hard, and gave his life, and here we are 50 years later, 55 years later, dealing with the exact same thing.
It's honestly hard not to be moved when hearing Anthony Mackie describe his experience on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It goes without saying that Martin Luther King is one of the most influential figures in history, and to stand where he once stood had to be a surreal experience.
Anthony Mackie also has another notable connection to Dr. King, as he portrayed the late civil rights leader in HBO’s All the Way. The film centers on King’s attempts to push President Lyndon B. Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Mackie’s performance was generally well received by both critics and audiences.
Mackie’s appeal is clear example of one of the far-reaching effects of the recent protests and calls for social justice. In addition, others have encouraged many to seek out films that astutely examine racism and its history in this country.
Although some have gravitated towards stories that are both told by white filmmakers and told from the perspective of white characters, many actors in Hollywood are making efforts to steer viewers towards work from Black creatives.
Anthony Mackie’s memory of being at the Lorraine hotel definitely strikes a nerve, and his sobering thought of how society is still dealing with the same problems today is especially poignant. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but we can, at least, find a bit of solace in the fact that some progress is being made and people are looking to educate themselves.