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.

On MLK 2013

Courtesy of the American Anthropological Association

Courtesy of the American Anthropological Association

Monday (January 21, 2013) is Martin Luther King Day – a federal holiday (since 1986) in the US, which actually means a vacation day for federal employees.

States have the opportunity to declare a holiday for its employees – and most, if not all, have on this day. In my state of Ohio, local government/public groups have the option of declaring the day a holiday.

Private employers also have an option of exercising the holiday,but only a bit more than a third do. A small percentage of others offer this day as a floating-holiday option.

Whether one chooses or not, and no matter the occasion, holidays provide the opportunity to reflect. In other words, holidays are more than just a day off from work.

Dr. King’s work and the Civil Rights movement was huge news in the 1960s. Today, two factors dominate my mind: Yes, we as a society have come a long way – but we still have a long way to go. Let’s look at a some information that may seem disjointed, but there’s a relationship.

Barack Obama’s candidacy, election, and reelection sparked its share of racism, although many disguise it in other ways.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports the number of hate groups has increased 69% since 2000.

An Associated Press survey (released 2012, in cooperation with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago), concludes that when measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, anti-Black sentiments increased to 56% in 2012.

Somewhere there is a city council member proudly stating their city does not recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday in the name of prudent fiscal management, while also pointing out there are no Blacks living in that city.

Whether professional, spiritual, or personal, reflection is a powerful tool that can drive personal change. I sincerely wish that race was irrelevant – unfortunately it isn’t – and maybe that day of irrelevance will come in the future. However, if it does, it will not be due of legislation, Supreme Court rulings, or any other civic action, but from personal reflection – after all, that’s what modifies individual behavior – but that will be have to done by a vast majority.

On MLK 2011

With Martin Luther King Day upon us, this is a good day to step away from the frivolity of my Monday posts. Thanks to Dr. King and many others, the 1960s were a time of civil rights gains. I was in my youth during the 60s, yet the more time moves forward, the more I realize about the gains since those days. In addition, as I get older, I also realize how much more society has to travel to implement true equality.

To those who did not live the turbulent 60s, I hope you remember that everything has a history. It’s the knowledge of history that helps us understand where we are in relationship to where we have been – and that view is necessary to understand the journey ahead.

As my years moved forward, I also realize importance of Dr. King using a message of peace to gain dignity for many. The 1960s were volatile times – especially 1968, which many consider one of the most turbulent years in American history. Even with the pathetic vitriolic behavior within today’s politics, 2010 and the small bit of 2011 are not even close to the tenor of 1968.

On the other hand, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Day and the words and work that Dr. King gave society, enjoy this short, well-done music tribute.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 82

On Two Arizona Hurts
Most Americans are rooting and cheering for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and the more I learn about her, how could one not.

Another hurt is that of the shooter’s parents. As they understandably stay secluded within their home, the media remains camped on the outside. They must feel a wide range of emotions as shame, rage, shock, bewilderment, and countless other adjectives. Personally, I would like to see three things for them: all media leave, someone close to the tragedy reach out their hand of forgiveness, and hope that they accept those who reach out – and the sooner the better on all counts.

Note: NBC reported that one of the injured went to the parent’s home for grant forgiveness, but he couldn’t get access.

On Mindless Finger Pointing
Sarah Palin is right in saying, “We are better than the mindless finger pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy.” However, is she is capable of mindless finger pointing?

Oh Rush for saying, “What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country.” Are any conservatives out there going to challenge him?

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently sent a letter seeking campaign funds while also mentioning the recent shootings in Arizona and the Republican far right. What were you thinking?

On the Two Speeches
President Obama delivered a magnificent speech Wednesday night in Tucson. Honest, genuine, compassionate, eloquent, realistic, inspirational, graceful, and many more adjectives can describe the speech. Anyone denying so is simply lost wondering adrift in the woods of partisanship.

After the speech, out of curiosity, I tuned to Fox News to hear their comments, which were all positive. Now compare that speech with the video released from Alaska earlier in the day.

Of the Tucson speech, I don’t recall seeing Speaker Boehner (R-OH) or Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA) in the crowd. If that was the case, not a good decision because one of them should have been there.

On an Upcoming Speech
On Tuesday, January 25th, President Obama will deliver the 2011 State of the Union address. Hey members of Capitol Hill. Consider standing and clapping only after Mr. President is introduced and at his conclusion. In between, sit and listen with dignity.

As a side note, I suggested this in a comment on CNN yesterday in a comment to a good letter by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO).

On a PBS Series
Sometime ago I recorded God in America, a 6-hour PBS series about the role religious faith has played in shaping life, politics, and culture in America. Both my wife and I found it to be enjoyable and enlightening. Not only can anyone view each segment online, the series’ website also provides transcripts, interviews, a study guide, and other resources about the topic.

On the BCS Championship
Congratulations to Auburn and their fans for winning the the game, but not the true national championship because there isn’t one to win.

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock recently said the “old system” is more likely to return than a playoff system. Then so be it! Break up the cartel!

On Rushing Waters
Our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the horrifying waters in Brisbane, Australia and most recently in Brazil. Please consider donating to the International Red Cross or your favorite international relief agency.

On an Approaching Day
Monday is Martin Luther King Day, and these words from Bill Tammeus’s Faith Matter’s blog stuck me: The progress we’ve made as a nation has been by fits and starts and, in the end, has left much unaccomplished. Each of us, no matter our ethnic origin, no doubt has a list of what has been left undone and needs to be tackled. (Source post)

Have a safe weekend.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 61

On the Gulf Oil Spill
Although the Drill Baby Drill chant is still resonating in my head, let us not forget that human technology is prone to error. Each time I think of lowering the dome, I picture the bar game of trying to land a coin in a submerged shot glass.

On the Vatican and Abuse
As sexual abuse scandals continue to plague the Roman Catholic Church, now is the time for the best chance that Pope Benedict XVI has to deliver a much-needed maya copa and set a much-needed new direction for the church on this issue. To me, he just can’t seem to set up to the plate.

On Senate Math
We Cincinnatians are “lucky” to receive media blitz for politics in three states. With the approaching primary, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has an ad endorsing a candidate to “help stop the Obama agenda.” Since this primary is for a position held by a retiring, conservative Republican, how can replacing one person with an ideological clone change the votes? Does the new person get two votes instead of one? Bottom line – Senator McConnell is a party-first senator – and is one of many examples of what is wrong in Washington.

On the Supreme Court Nominee
I am confident that numerous Republicans will say that court-nominee Kagan is not qualified. So to that group, the one who loves to thump their chest as standing up for the Constitution, I ask this question – What are the qualifications?

On a Weekend Civil Rights Event
For the second consecutive year, the Cincinnati Reds are hosting MLB Civil Rights Weekend. The passing of singing legend Lena Horne earlier this week is a big loss – besides, she was planning to attend. Here’s the story about the weekend.

On the Cincinnati Reds
My Reds have been playing well of late as both pitching and hitting are improving. The starting pitching’s last two starts (Cueto and Bailey) were unreal: 2 wins, 2 complete games, 2 shutouts, 0 walks, less than 193 pitches, 57 batters faced.

On Purging the Office
I have been going through many of my files and materials from aspects of my past or the sake of purging things I no longer need, it is interesting to come across notes and reflections that I wrote in the past. Who knows – maybe they will work their way to this site.

On a Classic Angle
Since many people love to complain about media bias, I wrote this post about the topic this past January – and it is still timely and will likely remain timeless.