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Letter: Watch it they must

To the Editor:

Watching the new historical drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" was like reliving the last 60 years of my life, having avidly followed both presidential politics and the civil rights movement, starting around the time title character Cecil Gaines joined the Truman White House servant staff in 1952.

I marveled at both the historical accuracy of actual events and the riveting drama of White House butler Gaines, whose personal and professional lives were intertwined during his 34-year White House tenure. His astonishment at the election of a black president in 2008, though much deeper and personal, was mirrored by me and countless millions of older Americans who never envisioned the progress that could be achieved during the arc of a half-century struggle that played out for us in real time. 

Many – if not a great majority of young folks today – know little about the torturous path of American history regarding race relations, or anything else for that matter. "The Butler" should be shown, early on, to every grammar school student in America. It is hard to watch, but watch it they must. It might help reverse the disturbing curtain of ignorance regarding our past that has descended upon our culture. Having grown up in a era where knowledge of our past as a means of progressively shaping our future ignited a life long commitment to change, I lament that unfortunate development. "The Butler" may help lift that curtain. 

Walt Zlotow

Glen Ellyn

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