by Kam Williams
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
Forest Whitaker, in a scene from his new film Repentance, portrays the grief of his character, Angel Sanchez. Photo by Patti Perrett (Courtesy Photo/Rottentomatoes.com)
Forest Whitaker is a distinguished artist and humanist. He is the founder of PeaceEarth Foundation, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace and since 2011 served as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.
He is also a talented, versatile performer and one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. He has received prestigious artistic distinctions including the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance inThe Last King of Scotland as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Forest has dedicated most of his time the past decade to extensive humanitarian work. His social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using the film medium as a means to raise peoples’ consciousness. To that end, he produced the award-winning documentary Kassim the Dream, which tells the poignant story of a Ugandan child soldier turned world championship boxer; Rising From Ashes, which profiles genocide survivors of the Rwandan war who have risen from wooden bicycles to competing in the Olympics; Serving Life, which focuses on hospice care for prisoners at Louisiana’s Angola Prison; and the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning Brick City, which takes a look at life in inner-city Newark, New Jersey.
In 2007, he received the Cinema for Peace Award for his selfless and ongoing advocacy for child soldiers, as well as for his work with inner-city youth. The following year, he served as a member of the Urban Policy Committee and currently sits on the board of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).
In 2013, Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center appointed Forest as a Martin Luther King Jr. Fellow. In addition, he currently serves as a Senior Research Scholar at Rutgers University, and as a Visiting Professor at Ringling College of Art and Design.