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

WASHINGTON – Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington said it’s up to the American people to “ask questions about each other and engage” as a way to improve race relations in the country because the U.S. president cannot “legislate love.”

Washington also had a direct message for anyone wondering which candidate he voted for in the 2016 presidential election: “None of your business.”

Washington’s comments were his first since he was the subject of a false article that claimed Washington shocked Hollywood and endorsed Donald Trump for president.

The post was shared more than 22,000 times on Facebook before being removed.

Politifact and BBC pointed out that the favorable Trump quotes were actually from civil rights activist Charles Evers, not Washington.

“Of course I saw it,” Washington said, referencing the incorrect article during an interview before the premiere of his new film, Fences, on Tuesday evening. He directed and starred in the movie, which will be released nationwide on Christmas Day.

In October of last year, Washington told The Hill he was undecided in the presidential election. “We just need to know more,” he said at the time. PJM asked Washington which candidate he ultimately supported and why.

“None of your business,” Washington responded with a smile.

Instead, Washington named some areas he would like to see President-elect Trump tackle. PJM asked him for the top issues he wants to see Trump act on during his term in the White House.

“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.