About a week and a half ago, I went to go see Selma and thought it was really well done. Michael Darer on HuffPo does a significantly better job reviewing the movie than I ever could (found here).
For those who don’t know, the movie follows the events leading up to and during the march from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL in 1965 to protest the voting laws that kept many black people from being able to vote. There was a ton of stuff in the movie that I had no idea had happened, including the first march ending in 600 unarmed marchers being attacked by troopers with billy clubs and tear gas. (This first march was called Bloody Sunday because of the attacks.) After another attempt to march (that hadn’t ended in violence) and obtaining federal protection, the third march started on March 21st and successfully ended at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25th, 1965. The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress that year.
Before going to the show, I was aware of one criticism the movie had – that the movie portrayed President Johnson as not supportive of the voting rights cause. But honestly, I didn’t really see that in the film; instead, I saw the portrayal of President Johnson as supportive but more concerned about the timing of passing a federal voting rights act. (Which as far as I know, is historically accurate??)
One of the many things I liked about how the movie was done was the occasional text from the FBI surveillance that was on Martin Luther King, Jr. and it was through this movie that I learned that J. Edgar Hoover had an incredible amount of hatred towards MLK. The FBI kept Martin Luther King under incredibly intense surveillance after the March on Washington and his “I have a Dream” speech. Although I’m unfortunately not surprised, this intense surveillance was definitely something that I learned about during the movie.
There were clear parallels between Selma and Ferguson and when the movie was first released, there were protests outside of many theaters highlighting the demands and beliefs of the movement. Some include:
- Political accountability for the death of Micheal Brown Jr.
- End over-policing and the criminalization of poverty
- The right to protest
- Pass the national “End Racial Profiling” legislation
(All of these and the rest can be found on Ferguson Action, thedemands.org, and Selma Sound Off. Definitely recommend looking through those websites.)