Oprah Talks to Denzel Washington
Oprah: Yes! It reminds me of a poem I performed in high school forensics club. It's called "Listen, Lord: A Prayer," from James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones, and it has that line in it ["...knee bowed and body bent"]. I think it's very important to have this film debut at a time when so many of our children are dropping out of school.
Denzel: Our children's problems are our fault—we created and allowed this environment for them. But despite all the negative press about our kids, a lot of great work is getting done, and this film is a call to teachers and community leaders to keep fighting. When I was a kid, I was influenced by folks at the Boys & Girls Club, which was a lifeline for me. I was reminded of that while we were filming in the backwoods of Louisiana. I took a drive just to get off the set for a while, and I came across a black family living way out in the woods. I pulled up a chair and chatted with them, and the two girls, each probably around 14, just about passed out! Both were straight-A students; they even showed me their report cards. I said, "Have you thought about Harvard? As smart as you are, you can do anything you want." Those were the very words the mayor once said to me when he came to visit the Boys & Girls Club. I never forgot it.
Oprah: And those girls will never forget your words. Do you feel positively about the state of the world right now?
Denzel: Absolutely. I don't mean to be smug, but I'm not surprised by much. It has all been foretold and written. I just stay focused on the question of how I will serve while I'm here. How can I lift people up?
Oprah: What are you most grateful for?
Denzel: The opportunity to do that. I hope we can remember that we each have that chance.