donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

‘Selma’ shockingly and sadly relevant

January 10, 2015

Review by Kia Croom

“Selma” gives a window into the turbulent three-month voting rights campaign, a series of pivotal protest marches in 1965 that culminated with President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The movie offers a lens into King and imperiled activists’ attempts to travel a 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital, Montgomery, in the face of blatant racism, brutality and de facto segregation.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in “Selma” – Photo: Atsushi Nishijima, Paramount Pictures

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in “Selma” – Photo: Atsushi Nishijima, Paramount Pictures

Movie-goers get a taste of what life was like in the deep Jim Crow South, post the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They get to look into Gov. George Wallace’s regime, which upheld segregation and defied federal law.

Viewers will see how communities and families unselfishly loaned their leaders, matriarchs, patriarchs and youth to the movement to protest the regime in the face of death. They will witness how they bravely continued their fight despite witnessing some of the most heinous crimes against humanity recorded in U.S. history. They will relive the community’s anguish and outrage with the murder of the “four little girls” killed in an explosion at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. Viewers who pay close attention will see how the four little girls deaths’ helped catalyze the 1960s era civil rights protests.

“Selma” differs from other civil rights era-themed films. It offers a more intimate look at King and his leadership. It chronicles King’s contentious relationship with President Johnson and his marriage and home life, which was troubled at times.

The movie offers a lens into King and imperiled activists’ attempts to travel a 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital, Montgomery, in the face of blatant racism, brutality and de facto segregation.

Viewers are reminded that although heroic, King was a man, who at times second guessed his decisions. In a few scenes viewers will see an embattled King second guess his strategies for the protests. As the movement gained momentum, viewers will see a little known, vulnerable side of King beleaguered with grief and guilt from disturbing events and casualties that resulted from the protests.

His heart bled at the death of Jimmy Lee Jackson, an unarmed protestor who was shot and killed by Alabama State Trooper James Fowler. He was mortified by the lynching and murder of James Reeb, a White Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston who traveled to Selma following King’s appeal to the multi-ethnic faith community to join the second protest march on March 9.

“Selma” differs from other civil rights era-themed films. It offers a more intimate look at King and his leadership.

Movie-goers will see the significance of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the youth-led Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They are reminded how key organizations fostered civil rights leaders such as Congressman John Lewis, D-Georgia 5th District (portrayed by Stephan James), C.T. Vivian (Corey Reynolds), Rev. Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce), Andrew Young (Andre Holland), Ralph David Abernathy (Colman Domingo), James Bevel (Common), Amelia Boynton (Lorraine Toussaint), civil rights attorney Fred Gray (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey).

The film’s star, David Oyelowo, did not disappoint. He captured the essence of King down to his diction and deportment. Carmen Ejogo very eloquently portrayed Coretta Scott King and was careful to strike the proper balance of patience and understanding yet display the assertiveness that characterized her.

Stan Houston, who portrayed Sheriff Jim Clark, was a part of some of the most intense and jarring scenes in the film, the violent and brutal arrests of the unarmed and peaceful protestors.

Tim Roth portrayed the villainous populist Gov. George C. Wallace, inclusive of his deep Southern accent and devotion to the state’s segregationist policies and culture.

Tom Wilkerson portrayed President Lyndon B. Johnson flawlessly. He captured the politician and the duality of his moral position to appeal to his Southern allies, yet preserve and protect America’s image. He effectively coupled these desires with his reluctance to extend voter rights to Blacks at a time when he felt it was counterproductive to his agenda.

The portrayals of civil rights leaders Hosea Williams, John Lewis, C.T. Martin, Ralph Abernathy and Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) were outstanding. The resemblances were as stark as it gets. Viewers will see their passion and frustration come alive on the screen.

The film shows how instrumental the media was in exposing and even shaming not only the state of Alabama, but the U.S. government for engineering racist institutions that dehumanized Blacks and abridged their rights.

The film shows how instrumental the media was in exposing and even shaming not only the state of Alabama, but the U.S. government for engineering racist institutions that dehumanized Blacks and abridged their rights.

Fast forward to half a century later. Modern-day marches, such as the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting death by a police officer, are making headlines. The film is shockingly and sadly relevant to current news headlines and the recent protests.

It was astonishing to watch how the civil rights activists and protesters successfully organized and mobilized massive marches and demonstrations absent tools we enjoy today, such as social media. The message was clear: No matter how “nasty, brutish and long” the fight, they were devoted to championing their civil rights just as millions across the country have demonstrated again over the last several weeks.

The message was clear: No matter how “nasty, brutish and long” the fight, they were devoted to championing their civil rights just as millions across the country have demonstrated again over the last several weeks.

Contributing writer Kia Croom is a published journalist with 10 years of experience writing for publications in California and the Southeast. Follow her on Twitter @newsbykiac or email her at kianews2011@gmail.com.

Tags

Filed Under: Culture Stories
Tags:

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements

Jrop Detroit


Click and find the
TravelVisaPro.com