“What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?”
-Quote from ‘Selma’
Selma: Movie Review
What happens is the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and depicted in the recent motion picture Selma.
Ava DuVernay directed a film that showed the real and raw truth of the “desegregated” south in the 1960s. The emotion that cannot be seen in history books and pictures were portrayed on the big screen. Graphic scenes of police brutality, rights denied, Bloody Sunday, political corruption, inner tension, and familial turmoil were placed in the forefront, unconcerned with politeness.
The ability of the actors to connect with their characters was superb! To be given only context clues through conversation, a knowledgeable watcher would be able to easily identify a character, which was a plus.
Powerful relationships were brought to life during this film. Many have criticized the portrayal of the relationship Martin Luther King, Jr. had with President Lyndon Johnson. The movie had many scenes of conversation between the leaders of tension, political correct speech, at times, and both sides pushing their agenda.
The contrasting views of Malcolm X and Dr. King could not be overlooked. Clergymen and women across the country united for the March in Selma. The marriage of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King showed struggles, pressures, and victories throughout the film. Leaders of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had their struggles with power, leadership, and submission as well.
Throughout the movie, although there were several characters, the main thing was the main thing. The movie was focused on the march and unrest in Selma that led to the The Voting Rights Act of 1965. The main story was not one of Dr. King’s life, but his leadership, and the leadership of others, marchers, police, and antagonizers in the march to Selma.
This movie is one that brings out emotion, causes reflection, tears, rejoicing, and encourages movement. #MarchOn
It was just 50 years ago, that leaders from across this country gathered on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to begin the march to the capital, Montgomery. Some of our parents can recount this day and our grandparents remember it vividly.
A people who were tired of their rights being hindered, decided to do something about it. Because of the Civil Rights Movement and action in Selma, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave protection to minorities against discrimination.
This affects so many of us today! As a black woman, I would be one of the individuals that would have had hurdles placed in my way in order to register to vote. I would have been given a poll tax I could not pay, have my life threatened if I tried to vote, have my ballot thrown away or lost to avoid being counted, be beaten for attempting to register to vote, and so much more. This is one of the reasons I am grateful for Selma and for those who were brave enough to stand against injustices.
Also, like in Selma, today, death, racism, injustice, and cause for change have spurred protests, movements, and conversations across this country. Nearly everyday, for months, there have been demonstrations across this country.
Life-altering events for so many people in Ferguson and New York have been part of the daily news cycle for months now. Because of social injustices and inequality, many Americans are expressing their angst, distrust, and demand for change through protests and marches.
Selma in 1965 and nationwide today, many protestors are jailed, scrutinized, ignored, and not supported. Dr. King had a clear agenda that protests were to be non-violent. He firmly believed that peaceful resistance could bring about the change necessary.
Although not all protests and marches today have been non-violent, the ideology behind the Selma march to Montgomery is the heart of many protests today. Peaceful protests and demonstrations can still result in change today like they did for Dr. King.
Recently, Common and John Legend won a Golden Globe for the original song “Glory,” that appeared in Selma. In his acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards, Common said:
“I realized I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote. I am the caring white supporter killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand, but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. ‘Selma’ has awakened my humanity… Selma is now.“
Those words resonated with me. Not just because it caused Hollywood to listen to the unrest of so many Americans. Not because it was the rapper and actor Common. Not because the song “Glory” was so good. But because, like Common, I saw that Selma is now.
From Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon from a 1967 , “Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool,” he says the following regarding being a minister, civil rights leader, and potential politician.
“But before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office… And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man. Not merely his soul, but his body.”
Dr. King made the connection between the gospel he believed and the reality he saw. Jesus had changed him to the point he had to cause change. It was his dusty as a minister to care for the oppressed and fight for justice, and for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. Dr. King felt that was his responsibility as a clergyman and believer to fight unfair systems in this country.
How can Selma be now?
The untiring and courageous protestors who march, chant, and are threatened are still out there demanding change. The non-violent stance adopted was one in which everyone a part of the movement understood and displays. Clergymen and women travelled from far and near to stand alongside the townspeople to march for freedom.
In the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement were the clergy, church leaders and members. What, I believe, is lacking from today’s protests/marches/movement, that was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, is the presence of the church.
The body of Christ, his ambassadors, and disciples must have a seat at the table for racial justice and reconciliation. John Piper also shares similar poignant and reflective thoughts in an amazing blog post after seeing the film. Make sure you check it out!
Selma is now. Don’t miss it. I emphatically echo Lecrae, “Go see Selma!”