Truth be told, I knew little of the “Selma” story and was thrilled to find a gap in time to see it the day before the national celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.
Born late in ’59, I recall events of Dr. Kings life but only bits and pieces beyond his legendary and inspirational oratory skills combined with deep belief in non-violent protest.
I found all the movie’s side stories auxiliary to the historic Voting Rights march from Selma, Alabama to the capital of Birmingham most interesting . You could really understand the 30+ year old King (played terrifically by David Oyelowo) struggling to balance marital, religious, and national icon strains. The explanation of the various regional and local organizations fighting endless injustice despite laws on the books. Enforcement of laws were left to the states and seemed like it was easier for the National politics to let this be a state issue. Clearly the south operated under a different set of legal interpretations.
Understanding the changing political winds become amplified as the violence and injustice present every day in the South became captured on national TV and national newspapers.
The movement for voting rights (and its enforcement) seemed to need a calm, spiritual leader like a Dr. King plus the horrid visual being played out on live TV/national news to galvanize the necessary national outcry and involvement of many African American celebs, church leaders and white America.
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I can’t even imagine the climate of those times and the suffering that took place here in the USA. Combined racial inequity on the home front, the war in Vietnam, post Kennedy Assassination trauma, economic issues and more, we were a country struggling to find our footing.
Words just can’t capture the complicated times and angst of the southern African American. The interspersing of the movie action sequences on the bridge with real life black and white footage was simply horrifying.
I was so moved by the music of this film which amplified the role of church, hope, glory and adversity. The final song “Glory” which plays thru the credits was a combination of John Legend vocals and rapped lyrics by Common (who also acts in this film) which tells the story of from Rosa Parks thru Ferguson. A remarkable piece of music.
I saw this film the day after seeing “An American Sniper” – 2 priceless true stories that both punched the audience in the audience hard.