Academy Award-nominee Taraji P. Henson stars in the upcoming film “The Best of Enemies,” and like her character, Ann Atwater, she believes true followers of Christ are to display unconditional love, even to those who are hateful.
“The Best of Enemies” tells the true story of an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, the president of the Durham chapter of United Klans of America (played by Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell). The pair unwittingly co-chaired a community summit in Durham, North Carolina, in the summer of 1971, just months after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of busing to desegregate schools. What followed would change Durham and the lives of Atwater and Ellis forever, as the two formed a friendship that lasted a lifetime up until Ellis’ death in 2005.
When asked about finding resolutions to racial tensions, Henson told CP that a Christian’s role is to work to defuse the conflict that’s around them. “If you’re a person of Christ, and if you are a Christian, then that’s what you do, that’s what Jesus did. Jesus was nailed to a cross by people who hated Him, resurrected, and still loved those same people. So you have to tap into that if you are truly a Christian,” she told The Christian Post.
The love Atwater showed Ellis despite his innate hatred of black people as a KKK leader eventually broke through his contempt, and Henson describes that as a reflection of God’s heart.
“When we talk about love, we talk about God’s love. It’s unconditional and love is the search for understanding,” Henson said. “So even the person you hate, if you want change you can’t match it with hate or else nothing’s going to change. Someone has to rise above and tap into love. And that’s when she (Atwater) was able to get change.”
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