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The Inconvenient Truth About 'Lincoln'

"Honest Abe," along with many known and unknown black Americans and their white allies, failed to make Lincoln's final cut.


Like just about everyone who has seen it, I was enthralled by Lincoln, the Hollywood film directed with authority and creative license by Steven Spielberg, smoothly scripted by Tony Kushner, and crowned by a veritable feast of brilliant acting. But in my case, as the author of 40 books on African American history and editor of 212 library research volumes (New York Times, 1968-1970) that address Civil War era issues, I watched with an additional set of eyes.

Spielberg begins his story in January 1865, and on the right foot: Two former slaves, now Union soldiers, approach America's most venerated president to inform him of their battle experiences and of the reality that if captured they would be immediately executed. One soldier adds, "our pay is half of what white soldiers get, and we have to pay for our own uniforms."

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