The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on in today’s society through a national holiday to commemorate his life. Martin Luther King Jr. is a popular street name, school name, and black history name. But how many of us, especially in this generation, really know the man behind the name? I, for one, grew up in a predominantly white school where Black history was reduced to one fact a day on the morning announcements during February. Yes, I learned about peaceful protests and the civil rights movement but it was in a flowery, idealistic kind of way. The truth about Dr. King, the truth about the plight of black people in America, the truth of Selma- that was not taught to me in history class.
“Selma” gives a glimpse into Dr. King’s life during the time of the civil rights campaign in Selma, Alabama: the good, the bad, and the ugly. During this era, Dr. King had fought and won the battle of discrimination (separate but equal) through the Civil Rights Act, but he was still pressing for legislation giving blacks the right to vote. Why was voting so important for black people back then? In today’s society the line of black people to buy new Jordan’s is longer than the line to the voting booth. This movie breaks down in the most realistic way why the black vote matters so much to America. “Selma” also unravels that sad truth that the struggles of the past are still very relevant today and depicts on the movie screen the history we didn’t learn in the classroom.
As I watched police beat and murder innocent black people on the screen there was a scary and uncanny resemblance to the video of Eric Garner pleading for his life and gasping “I can’t breathe” as officers showed no mercy. And, watching Dr. King and other civil rights leader discuss why the right to vote is important because to be on a grand jury you have to be registered to vote, it triggered memories of the Mike Brown trial in Ferguson. (There were 12 randomly selected citizens in Brown’s grand jury – 25% were African American although Ferguson is 52% African American.)
As a black person in America, “Selma” is one of the best and hardest films to watch. As a person in America “Selma” is still one of the best and hardest films to watch. Sometimes we, as a generation, need a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. I left the theater proud that I had chosen to March on Washington just weeks prior; grateful to those that had come before me, allowing me to peacefully assemble without the threat of violence; and antagonized at the thought that decades later we are still marching for the same rights as Dr. King in 1963.This movie gets 2 thumbs up and is a must see for all ages, all nationalities, all colors and backgrounds.
“Selma” premiers January 9th.