Remembering George A. Romero by Ken Foree

When reminiscing about the career and life of Mr. Romero, there is a constant theme. We acknowledge it and sometimes scroll past it because it’s been pointed out so many times. It almost escaped me but while reading the media coverage I realized once again: I’m naturally prejudiced, but I’m not alone.

Having an African-American starring in a motion picture in 1968 was simply not done. There were one or two examples to the contrary but it was a huge disconnect from the norm. When asked, George said, “I selected the best actor for the role.” That was George Romero. George probably found many competent actors, but he pushed the envelope and “selected the best actor for the role.” It was an inspired and courageous decision for anyone to make; putting at risk the efforts of his producers, cast, and crew and their hopes and dreams for a successful venture that might launch their careers.

George said it wasn’t intentionally racially motivated and I believed him. But no one can deny that like many historical events the original intention was lost for a far more compelling and significant result. Duane Jones used his masculinity, his reason, and intelligence to take command with a great depth of character. He had so much to give, he took charge and the world felt safe, the bad guys were defeated and it was our hero who did it. When he was shot between the eyes, everyone watching throughout the United States and across the world took a large sigh of deep regret. The fact Duane Jones is listed as George’s first social statement has a tremendous resonance at that time and still echoes today.

One thing didn’t matter anymore, no one took into consideration his race. He was our hero, he was going to make it out… there would be a chance for us all.

George was surrounded by many talented friends and associates, but George was totally gifted. He was the beacon in the night. He was the man who dared to say, “I selected the best actor for the role.

– Ken Foree

George A. Romero

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