Video footage that has emerged of a 2004 Episcopal school fundraiser has racial undertones that may make some uncomfortable. The clip has already led to at least one organization condemning actor Tom Hanks, one of the individuals who is depicted in it.
In the clip, Hanks and Eagles musician Glenn Frey are seen hosting an auction for St. Matthew’s Parish School in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Now, here's where it gets controversial: the two entertainers can be seen playfully interacting with a white man who appears to be dressed as an African native.
The man, who The Daily Caller reports is identified in the clip as James Montgomery, an investment banker who is the CRO of Montgomery & Co., is wearing blackface makeup and has a giant Afro wig. To top his costume off, he also has an arm band that looks like it is composed of animal teeth and is wearing a leopard-print toga.
Hanks and Frey likely chose to host the event based on the fact that their children attended the school. The fundraiser's theme was "Castaways," which was reflective of Hanks' 2000 hit film, "Cast Away." The DC has more about the event in question:
The final item auctioned in the 2004 fundraiser depicted in the video was a large stuffed “trophy gorilla” that came with what Hanks described as a “dowry”: 5,000 shares of pre-IPO stock in Corus Pharmaceuticals, a company whose limited partners included Montgomery’s family trust.
The video shows Montgomery in blackface, holding the stuffed animal and standing with Hanks, while Frey is heard saying into his microphone: “This is as close to diversity as we’ll get at St. Matthew’s.”
It also shows Hanks taking his own stab at humor while he stands next to Montgomery and the stuffed gorilla, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, a celebrity in our midst! Who would have thought that Bill O’Reilly would join us?”
But the O'Reilly quip wasn't the only comment about conservatives. Frey also says that Montgomery is "just back from a Jerry Falwell sensitivity training seminar." Additionally, Frey also proclaimed, "All I know is, this school is so conservative that Jamie Montgomery was almost not allowed in. They stuck him in the parking lot -- they let him in. These are the jokes, people."
While they may have been jokes, the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights group, isn't laughing. Niger Innis, the organization's national spokesperson, called the incident "orchestrated, heinous, and racist." Additionally, he called for President Obama to remove Hanks' narration from his new campaign video, "The Road We’ve Traveled."
The DC obtained the video from "an observer" who filmed the auction. She explained that it was Hanks' partisanship that caused her to digitize the tape and share it with the outlet. That being said, the tape is nearly eight years old and may cause some to wonder why it didn't make its way out into the open sooner.
"Tom would be the first to scream ‘racist’ if a conservative put their arm around a ‘Wall Street Banker’ in blackface while their co-emcee made racists remarks," the woman who taped the event said. "He’s a hypocrite."
Watch the video in question, below:
This story has been updated.
(H/T: Daily Caller)