When most African-American filmmakers were trying to make a way out of no way in Hollywood by being politically correct, Spike Lee challenged the industry with thought-provoking stories of Black America. This June, the Brooklyn-born director, screenwriter, producer and actor will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his classic masterpiece “Do the Right Thing.” The film explores the racial tensions in a multicultural Brooklyn community and how those lives struggled to coexist in harmony. Not only did Lee cast veteran actors such as the late Ossie Davis and his wife, Ruby Dee, but he offered many up-and-comers—Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence—their big-screen debuts.
To commemorate the film’s 20th anniversary, ImageNation will host its 5th annual Black History Month event with the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center tonight with a star-studded celebration honoring director Spike Lee in New York. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D and Apollo Heights will deliver a rock-infused live performance of the revolutionary anthem, “Fight the Power,” the film soundtrack’s first release, followed by a screening of the historic film.
For those of you who still don’t get the significance of “DTRT,” perhaps America’s President and First Lady can put it into perspective for you. “Barack told me the first date he took Michelle to was [to see] ‘Do the Right Thing,’ ” Lee shares with New York magazine. “I said,’Thank God, I made it.” And we thank God Lee’s been doing the right thing for the last 20 years.