“Get On Up” – and Go See the James Brown Biopic

From Marc Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League

“Get On Up,” the new James Brown biopic, came in with a third place showing at the box office over the weekend – but without a doubt, this is a first-rate movie.

Granted, I happen to be a big fan of the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” But anyone who sees this movie will walk away enlightened about Brown’s life. We hosted a red carpet screening of the movie during our Annual Conference in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago – and our attendees, like myself, were awed by Chadwick Boseman’s spot-on portrayal of Brown, from his iconic dance moves to his unmistakable voice. The movie itself is well done in its depiction of such a supremely complex and talented individual.

It is also a reminder to us of the impact James Brown had on this nation. In addition to being the “Godfather of Soul” (and other genres of music and dance), he was the musical godfather of economic empowerment and equal opportunity. From songs like his 1968 “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud” that unified and energized the African American community after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination to his 1969 “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get It Myself)” and his 1972 “King Heroin,” Brown chronicled the challenges faced by Blacks in the U.S. during that time.

The greatness of James Brown’s legacy is also embodied in his pervasive influence across generations – from the late Michael Jackson to Mick Jagger, from Prince to Usher.

Brown was a consummate showman and courageous visionary, and through “Get On Up,” we are able to see sides of him that we never knew. I encourage everyone to see this movie.