Morgan Freeman may be one of America’s most beloved actors, but he has a pretty spotty record when it comes to race. However, that seems to have changed. While he once said we should avoid talking about race, he now wants to boldly address the issue. Freeman recently lost his granddaughter, E’Dena Hines, who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend.
Freeman is part of a group of well-known Mississippians who took out an ad calling for the removal of the Confederate emblem from the state flag. The ad, placed in The Clarion-Ledger, was signed by Freeman, Jimmy Buffett, John Grisham, legendary quarterback Archie Manning and Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help.
“It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved. It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people,” said the letter.
Freeman’s views on race have changed over the years. In the past he has taken a simplistic view on race. During a 2005 60 Minutes interview, Freeman said he believed the best way to end racism was to simply stop talking about it.
“How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!” Freeman said.
In a 2014 interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Freeman said that he didn’t think race had anything to do with income equality, adding that he and Lemon were “proof” of his claim.
“Why would race have anything to do with it?” Freeman asked Lemon. “Put your mind to what you want to do and go for that. It’s kind of like religion to me, it’s a good excuse for not getting there.”
However, Freeman has been a vocal critic of the tea party and the hatred directed at President Obama. Freeman said the tea party had racist undertones, especially its message of “taking the country back.”
“The lengths that people will go to to show their prejudices!” he said in an interview with The Daily Beast.”You see some of these signs that say, “TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!” What the f**k is that? Whose country are you talking about? They are being pushed to the side, which is a good thing for them to realize: you don’t have the power you think you have in this country. Obama was legitimately elected president. If you don’t like that, fine, either move out, or make your point and get yourself elected, but don’t tear the country apart!”
In an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, Freeman said the tea party exposed the dark underside of America. He also said Obama’s election had made race relations worse, because it had awakened white resentment, exemplified by the tea party.
“The tea partiers who are controlling the Republican party… their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term,” Freeman said. “What underlines that? Screw the country. We’re going to do whatever we can to get this Black man out of here.”
Freeman also refused to watch Twelve Years a Slave. He said it would only make him angrier and compared it to “punching myself in the face.”