Selma | History on the Big Screen

Selma was directed by the very talented Ava DuVernay. There has been much controversy surrounding the movie and its exclusion from Oscar award nominations, however, the talent of this director can speak for itself. She retold this story in a way that captures the essence of what actually happened during that poignant time in American history.

The movie retells life in America post the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made segregation illegal in public places. Although the 15th Amendment to the Constitution stated that the, “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” African Americans still lacked the right to participate in voting practices in the U.S. Discriminatory tactics such as poll taxes and literacy exams prevented most African Americans from actually registering to vote.

In 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., other leaders and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) decided to make Selma, Alabama the battle ground to fight for African American voter rights. While in Selma, several protest and marches escalated tensions among whites and African Americans. During one demonstration, a young man by the name of Jimmie Lee Jackson was murdered, sparking the 54 mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery, Alabama.

The movie not only captures this moment in history, but it addresses infidelity in the King marriage and the role the FBI and clergy played in the Civil Right Movement. It also shows a glimpse of the opposition between King and Malcolm X and the impact Coretta Scott King had on the movement in her own right.

The casting is spot on. David Oyelowo (King) successfully shows the fullness of his character – a man of God who was charismatic and funny, yet vulnerable and extremely powerful.

Throughout the movie, my 11-year-old son had so many questions. I candidly watched his face as the glow of the screen allowed me to see his tears and reactions. I left the theatre with puffy eyes and a renewed spirit of hope - Hope for my generation and the ones after. This movie, through its depiction of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and Bloody Sunday, helps you realize the extent to which we owe so much to those who’ve sacrificed their lives for equality.

To say the least, this movie is a must see.



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