25 Years Later, How Spike Lee's 'Do The Right Thing' Changed Race Relations In America
By Jackie Willis
It's been 25 years today, June 30, since director Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing film hit theaters, and this drama not only holds a lot of significance for many across the country, it was also the film President Barack Obama took First Lady Michelle Obama to see on their first date.
To celebrate the movie's anniversary, a celebration was thrown in Brooklyn presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- where Dave Chappelle, Public Enemy's Chuck D and Erykah Badu were in attendance-- and the Obamas made a video message for the special occasion. "Do The Right Thing was actually the first thing we saw together on our first official date," Michelle, 50, admitted. "He was trying to show me his sophisticated side by selecting an independent filmmaker."
The President quipped, "I took her to this new movie everybody was talking about directed by a guy that not that many people had heard of. But it was supposed to be pretty good."
The First Lady added of the 1989 film, "It ended up being a pretty good movie--really great!"
"So Spike, thank you for helping me impress Michelle," the Commander-in-chief, 52, joked. “And thank you for telling a powerful story. Today, I've got a few more grey hairs than I did back in 1989. You don't look like Mookie anymore. But Do the Right Thing still holds up a mirror to our society, and it makes us laugh, and think and challenges all of us to see ourselves in one another.
Do the Right Thing is set on the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.