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Denzel Washington on Race Relations: ‘You Can’t Legislate Love’

“I don’t know. I would have to be more informed to just say off the top of my head the number one issue: education, jobs, health. I mean, there’s so many,” he said.

Fences deals with race relations in the 1950s as it tells the story of a former Negro League baseball player who faces challenges trying to provide for his family.

PJM asked Washington, who attended President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, if he thinks race relations have improved since Obama took office.

“You know, race relationships have to do with race relationships. You’re white or whatever you are. I’m black or whatever I am. We are standing here talking now – that’s how we get things done. You can’t legislate love,” he said. “The president of the United States can’t legislate us into liking each other. We have to step forward and ask questions about each other and engage. There’s no law that says, ‘Oh, because I’m president you all got to get along now.’ So it’s up to us.”

Washington also weighed in on whether or not the Black Lives Matter movement has helped or hurt race relations in America.

“Listen, we live in America and in America we have the freedom to express ourselves. We shouldn’t take that for granted so whatever the movements are, whether you agree with them or you don’t, they have the right to express themselves. So that’s one of the great things about being in this country, that you do have the right to protest,” Washington said.