On Selma: A Perspective

Selma: The movie

Setting: Selma, Alabama, early 1965 during the Civil Rights era

Me: At the time, a 12-year old living in rural Ohio, and oblivious to the actual meaning of the movement, but aware of events at a 12-year-old level

The movie trailer

From the opening scene, Selma is a historical, powerful, suspenseful drama that took me through many emotions – shock, sad, joy, shame, pride, surprise, awe, and probably others. Although I knew elements of the story and how it ends, the film was absorbing and suspenseful. Although it appeared to creep through time, the film moved at a reasonable pace and kept me engaged.

The film centers on important names that I already know: Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X, Lyndon Johnson, and George Wallace … and some important ones that I didn’t know. I don’t know what percentage of the film is factual, but I’m confident that enough of it is for historical relevancy.

I appreciated David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King, and wow … the voice and the demeanor! As Dr. King’s wife, Carmen Ejogo’s displayed someone stoic, solid, and supportive.

Tributes to the event with video and images

Selma is a cultural barometer that provokes thought. Because then and now are points in time, it shows how far American society has come since those dark days yet, it should help one realize how far we still have to go. Shamefully, events like Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and others still exist, but there is no way I can be convinced that the overall situation isn’t better today than 1965 and earlier … and Selma helps cement my belief.

With Martin Luther King Day being this coming Monday, this weekend would be an excellent time to see Selma.

Below is a short video that starts in the early 60s yet ends in 2009. It’s one of my favorite videos here because it speaks volumes to me about perspective, about growth, and about the hope that humanity can provide.