Eric Holder, George Lucas among CBC Foundation gala honorees

Share The Grio Share The Grio
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the NAACP annual convention Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Houston.  (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the NAACP annual convention Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was honored Saturday night at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix Awards, sharing the honors with a southern mayor, a feisty congresswoman, and the man behind Star Wars.

Both men served up passionate speeches in which the attorney general vowed to protect Americans’ right to vote, and the filmmaker decried the continued existence of racism, including in Hollywood.

Filmmaker George Lucas spoke about his dogged pursuit to make Red Tails, a feature film with an all-black cast that told the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Saying he was “deeply honored” by the award, Lucas said he worked on the film for 20 yeas. He said that having grown up in the 1960s, he had believed that electing a black president would mean society had changed, but instead, it merely “brought some things to the surface,” adding that today, racism exists in “code words.” And he said that, while he initially thought the movie would appeal mostly to young black males, he discovered that the most enthusiastic audience was “black women in their 50s.”

Still, Lucas said, the most gratifying aspect of making the film was the looks on the faces of 10-year-old boys after watching it, knowing they realized the were a part of the American story.

Lucas also took a veiled shot at Republicans during his thank you speech, saying “the foundation of a dictatorship is no compromise. The foundation of a democracy is compassion and compromise.”

Holder: ‘I will protect voting rights’