Mahogany, starring Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross, is one of my favorite love movies ever made. It requires a true romantic to appreciate the love demonstrated in this great movie because it was not initially intended as a love story. And love is a powerful thing.. But, throughout Mahogany, it subtly shows the power of love.
When the couple first meet, Brian (Williams) is not interested in romance; he is involved in his own work as an activist and construction worker. Despite this, the mere appearance of Tracy (Ross) breaks his concentration while he is delivering a public speech. He is passionate and committed to his cause, yet she penetrates that and grabs his attention. That is something only a soul mate is able to do.
Brian and Tracy are both struggling in different careers. She gets a big break and is offered a chance to model in France. Brian gives a lesson on how selfish love can be at times. He doesn’t want her to go because he fears losing her. This happens so often in real life, but we fail to see and understand it. True love should never bind nor prevent their partner from soaring as high as they can fly. In the end they will end up resenting you for holding them back. She defies his wishes and departs for France for her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She is an overnight sensation. Time goes by and she is a big rags-to-riches success story. Despite all the good times and bad times between them, they never lost their love for each other. Brian travels across the world to see her. He did one of the most difficult things to do in the battle for love: he swallowed his pride. Pride is a powerful obstacle that often gets in the way of love. He pays a dear price and follows her after she left him to pursue her career. Love costs. His move shows the depth of what real love is and the joy of the one who finds it. You have two people, basically from opposite worlds, which fall in love; and success and distance could not tear them apart.
When he finds her, she is a big success in the modeling industry. When Tracy expresses doubts about the relationship, Brian delivered the most famous words of love ever stated on a movie screen: “Success isn’t nothing unless you have someone to share it with”. That is love. After all the changes and distance between them, he still loves her as much as he did when she left, and he is willing to swallow his pride and make a stand for love. This movie reflects true Black Love during a time when Hollywood refused to portray us as capable of maintaining and sustaining meaningful relationships. I recommend that Mahogany be in every couple’s DVD player on Valentine’s night.
LeRoy Gadsden is a writer, photographer, legal advisor and Civil Rights advocate. He currently serves as the President of the St. Alban’s, NY, NAACP chapter.