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Selma: Historic film features the struggle for the right to vote

DIANE XAVIER | 1/21/2015, 6:20 p.m.
Through blood, sweat and tears, civil rights leaders fought to bring equality to all and to help Blacks attain the ...
From left: André Holland plays Andrew Young, David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Colman Domingo plays Ralph Abernathy in Selma. Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films

The Dallas Examiner

Through blood, sweat and tears, civil rights leaders fought to bring equality to all and to help Blacks attain the right to vote.

The movie Selma features the battle fought by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders that prompted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The films depicts the racism and discrimination Blacks faced in the South during the 1960’s and how King and other leaders fought for justice through peaceful marches and speeches.

In the opening of the film, an older Black lady, Annie Lee Cooper, played by Oprah Winfrey, tries to register to vote. The White man who takes Cooper’s information denies her the right to vote because of the color of her skin, even though Cooper has all her information.

The movie shows several horrific acts against Blacks.

One of the most memorable incidents was when several young Black girls are walking down the stairs of a building, talking to each other. Suddenly the building is bombed and the girls die.

These horrific acts led King to Selma, Alabama. King and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference hold several meetings to strategize how they can help with overcoming discrimination, especially in the ability for Blacks to vote.

King argues that violent acts against Blacks, such as the bombing, will not get any justice if Blacks do not have the right to vote since most juries are all-White juries who tend to let the people who committed crimes against Blacks get away with it.

King preaches at several churches where he gathers thousands of supporters in his efforts to help Black voices be heard.

He also meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson and his staff in order to encourage him to help with their efforts. Johnson seems to be open to the idea that King has proposed, while other staff members of Johnson’s administration are against it.

The FBI are also seen wire-tapping King and his people to see what they plan to do during the marches.

King’s sermons motivates additional support for the marches and people begin to march with him.

Another goal of King’s was to get the media to cover the marches. The coverage leads preachers from other denominations, such as Jews, Catholics and people of diverse cultures, including Whites, to join King and his people to march together, holding hands in the fight for justice.

Some White leaders who join King and his efforts are later beaten up by White supremacists who hate Blacks.

Also, during some of the marches, police and law enforcement try to stop King and his people from peaceful marches by attacking them. When one of the law enforcement officers tries to beat a Black protestor, Cooper is seen striking back at the law enforcement officer. A small fight breaks out and King briefly ends up in jail.

King’s wife visits him in jail and promises him that she will stand by his side and support him.

After his release, he continues his efforts through sermons at churches and organizing larger marches. The marches continue to grow larger and larger until the police cannot stop them – leading to an epic portion of the movie, a triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery.

In the end, the hard work and efforts of the activists lead Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act.

Selma was an outstanding movie that actually shows the struggles Blacks faced in order to get the right to vote. As the film ended, it revealed several photographs of the actual marches and violence against Blacks in the 1960’s.

The film is a good history lesson for all and depicts the importance of learning about the struggles of many Americans in an effort to attain the right for all people of color to vote and the value of the right to vote.

On a scale of 1-to-5, I give this movie a five.