He grew up in the Jim Crow South and recalled the times when he was threatened by police with sticks and kicked off street corners. When the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham approached, Hannie was taken back to a time he could never forget.
Hannie attended Northport’s Riverside High School in the 1960s, when the bombing occurred. When the four African-American girls were bombed in that church, the pain was felt throughout the nation. Police retaliation soon followed against nonviolent civil rights protests.
The movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” followed the journey of the late Eugene Allen as he worked as a White House Butler during segregation. The interview with MSNBC focused on other real White House butlers who shared similar stories.
In the movie, Eugene Allen’s character, played by Forest Whitaker as “Cecil Gaines,” witnessed lynching, rape, and economic inequality in his lifetime. When asked how his experience compared to Allen’s, Hannie, who served for 46 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson, paused and heaved a melancholic sigh.
“I think the movie was very accurate –right on key,” he said emphatically with a Southern accent. “One hundred percent accurate. You understand?”