AMC Kicks Out Civil Rights Leader From African American Movie

Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

( – The AMC cinema chain recently expressed regret to Reverend William Barber II, a prominent civil rights figure from North Carolina, following an incident where he was barred from using his personal chair during a showing of “The Color Purple.” Reverend Barber, who previously led the North Carolina NAACP, lives with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that necessitates the use of a cane and makes sitting in standard cinema seats challenging.

During a Tuesday screening in Greenville, which he attended with his 90-year-old mother, Reverend Barber was informed that his personal chair was not allowed in the area designated for patrons with disabilities. This decision led to the involvement of the Greenville Police, although it was reported that Reverend Barber left the premises voluntarily following their arrival and discussion with him.

Reverend Barber shared with local news station WNCT his surprise at the incident, noting the absence of any signs prohibiting personal chairs and mentioning his history of bringing his chair to various venues without any issues. He recounted his experiences at diverse locations, including Broadway, the White House, and other cinemas, where his chair had been accepted without any problems.

Ryan Noonan, the Vice President of Corporate Communications at AMC, issued a formal apology to Reverend Barber for the treatment he received and the resulting distress and inconvenience to him, his family, and his companions. AMC’s Chairman and CEO, Adam Aron, personally reached out to Reverend Barber and planned a face-to-face meeting in Greenville, NC, to further discuss the incident and Reverend Barber’s significant contributions over the years.

In addition, Noonan stated that AMC is reevaluating its policies on accommodating disabilities with its theater staff to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Reverend Barber, in a statement to Religion News Services, criticized the incident as inconsistent with the standards of a progressive and developed society, especially one governed by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. He emphasized the necessity of accommodations in modern society, asserting, “This is not the ancient world, where people who are sick are pushed to the side and told, ‘You can’t participate.’ With our laws, you have to make the accommodation.”

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