One extremely profound and historic moment (of many) during the film “Selma” occurs when viewers witness President Lyndon B. Johnson finally acquiesce to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over his desire to conduct a protest march in Alabama. The dramatic White House scene, in which President Johnson places a call to Alabama Governor George Wallace at this insistence of Dr. King, is magnified tenfold when viewers can’t help but notice a portrait of George Washington staring down at LBJ from an Oval Office wall. The symbolic message to the audience is clear. After nearly 200 years as a country–built in large part upon the backs and suffering of African-Americans–the United States was finally turning a new page on that grim chapter of our nation’s history.
“Selma” is a powerful, must-see film on a multitude of levels. The movie seamlessly educates, inspires and shocks audiences with knowledge, faith and unfiltered images. It unapologetically documents the importance church played in American society at one of our nation’s most trying times. The film denotes the vital importance religion played in spawning renewed support from all regions the country, particularly white church goers and religious leaders. No religious spirit and kind heart was touched more so by the outpouring of followers than Martin Luther King, Jr.
Director Ava DuVernay’s brightest achievement in “Selma” is the palpable intensity felt, heard and seen by moviegoers as the film marches along. “Selma” justifiably depicts the deadly and graphic violence which took place against blacks in the 1960s. The multiple illustrations of inhuman treatment are necessary in this movie to fully understand the ruthlessness of so many…for so long. In contrast, and perhaps more importantly, we can see and appreciate Martin Luther King’s remarkable kindness towards humanity and strong conviction that peaceful protests should remain non-violent despite sustained cruelty by others.
The film’s most endearing quality is the growth found in the main character over its 2-hour span. We find Dr. Martin Luther King’s fortitude comes primarily from three sources—faith in his religion, support from the people, and resolve from his wife Coretta Scott King. As King gains strength from each of these pillars in his life, he’s able to handle confrontations and setbacks dealt from Washington DC, Alabama whites, and even some black militants—all attempting to derail his organization’s movement. It’s impressive in “Selma” to see Dr. King gain influence and power from his church podium, leading a march across an Alabama bridge, or challenge a U.S. president and its citizens into action. Aside from the obvious bond to his faith, this movie sheds light on the momentous part Coretta Scott King played in her husband’s life and his Civil Rights successes.
“Selma” is more than just a film about eliminating barriers to black voters. It’s a movement about one man’s place in our history–going from spiritual leader to national preacher. With steadfast determination and non-violent tactics, Dr. King used the church to gain momentum for his march between the cities of Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. In comparison to the harsh treatment from the white establishment, Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent ways convinced many religious organizations and whites to ultimately join his cause. The most influential of those who came around to accept Dr. King’s hastened timeline, and later signed the Voter Rights Act of 1965, was the President of the United States at the time, Lyndon B. Johnson. After almost 200 years, the voices and votes of those who’d suffered the most over that period were now going to be heard and counted–finally. That’s the grateful tribute of “Selma” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his peaceful, non-violent means to achieve a justified end…and the real reason to see this exceptional, historic story.
“Selma” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.
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