The United States vs. Billie Holiday Review

There is something about the power of music. A beloved song has a way of making it’s way into the listeners brain, conscious, and perhaps helping to change things for the better.

Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century. Though it has been six decades since her physical form left this Earth, her performances and songs continue to leave a mark on fans. The new biopic about her life, The United States vs. Billie Holiday dropped yesterday on Hulu.

The film stars singer/actress Andra Day as Holiday, Garrett Hedlund as Harry J. Anslinger, and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher. The audience follows Holiday as she battles drug addiction, racism, and gets involved with FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher. Woven into the narrative is the iconic and dark song Strange Fruit, which sadly is as potent today as it was during Holiday’s life time.

I really wanted to like this film. Day’s performance is worthy of the accolades she is receiving. Unfortunately, that is where I have to draw the line. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to be hooked, but I was not. Whatever tension and drama I anticipated was sadly lacking. Especially with Anslinger’s obsession and persecution of Billie Holiday. That should have been more exciting that it was actually was.

Do I recommend it? No.

Burden: A Preacher, a Klansman, and a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South Book Review

The American ideal is that all citizens are equal, regardless of any labels that we or others may use to define an individual. But we all know that the reality does not match the ideal.

The new book, Burden: A Preacher, a Klansman, and a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South, written by journalist Courtney Hargrave is the story of an unlikely friendship. In 1996, the small town of Laurens, South Carolina received worldwide media attention when Michael Burden opened a museum celebrating the history of the Klu Klux Klan.  Among those who protested the museum was Revered David Kennedy, the Reverend of a local African-American Church who would at a later date, hold out his hand in friendship and camaraderie when Michael was at his lowest.

Soon to be an upcoming movie starring Garrett Hedlund and Forest Whitaker, I found the book to be remarkable. It spoke to the idea that despite our pasts, change is possible. We can movie past racism and prejudice and see the person beyond the label.

I recommend it.


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