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WJBD - Entertainment - Anika Noni Rose: I Still Experience Racism

Anika Noni Rose: I Still Experience Racism

Hallmark(NEW YORK) -- Anika Noni Rose stars in a new Hallmark Channel movie about a family that experiences racism and segregation in the 1960s, but the actress says she personally experienced racism just last week.

Rose -- whose screen credits include Dreamgirls and providing the voice of Tiana in the animated film The Princess and the Frog -- tells ABC News Radio a person wrote to her and said a number of hateful things, including addressing her as a "black monkey."

"That's someone who is so unhappy and is so stuck in a rut of...just ignorance and loss that I ultimately feel sorry for that person," the 41-year-old actress says.  "Because I go about my day in light and with joy as much as possible."

Rose posted the hurtful tirade on her Facebook wall. "I put that out there because I wanted people to see this is what happened, so let's not get really comfortable and let's not forget to teach how wrong this is and to teach love," she explains.

Rose hopes to teach even more people about America's dark past of racism and segregation with Hallmark's The Watsons Go to Birmingham. The film co-stars Wood Harris and David Alan Grier and centers on the Watson family in the summer of 1963.  Originally from Flint, Mich., the Watsons venture to Birmingham, Ala., to visit family and discover that life is much different for African Americans in the south.

"It is such a strong piece of our history as America," Rose says of the film, "...And this movie will teach young people about the Civil Rights Movement in a way that it's not didactic, it's not hitting them over the head, it's not a blame game.  It is simply a story about a family that you get caught up in; that hopefully you'll begin to love."

Rose says although the film deals with a heavy piece of history it's still light and comedic.

The actress plays a mother in the film for the first time in her career. Rose admits she was surprised initially, but the casting made sense especially for 1960s America. 

"They're a really young family and they're still figuring themselves out and still learning who they are," Rose says.  "And it was a time when...a woman would get married sometimes straight out of high school and immediately leave home to go to wherever her husband is.  So it's a really interesting time period to be a woman."

The Watsons Go to Birmingham premieres Friday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Hallmark Channel.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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