Oprah Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Studios, released a historical drama entitled Selma late last December. The film reenacts the memorable march that civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lead from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. The film was released just a few months shy of the 50th anniversary of the march.
The two-hour film follows King and his followers during their journey to solidify voting rights for African-Americans. The film gives a poignant view of what the civil rights leaders and activists experienced to not only enforce the voting law, but to also gain equality for all mankind.
In the beginning of the film, King reminded President Lyndon B. Johnson that African Americans in the south were not being allowed to exercise their constitutional right to vote. African Americans had to jump through hoops to try to vote and were still denied their rights. King suggested that this should be the main priority for the Johnson administration; however, Johnson brushed off the suggestion and also told King to drop the issue for another year. Johnson wanted King to continue to lead the Civil Rights Movement, so he would not have to confront militants such as activist Malcom X.
Undeterred from rejection, King decided to take matters into his own hands and traveled to Selma, Ala. to see how the locals would handle his presence. After deciding this was the perfect place to protest, King and his team assembled and devised several plans for this issue to gain attention. Thousands of supporters from across the country linked arms and marched from the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery’s capital building. The protest lasted from March 7 through March 21 in 1965.
Ava DuVernay, who is best known for her previous work at the Sundance Film Festival, directed Selma. Since the release of Selma, DuVernay has become the first African American female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for best picture. Other members of the cast include David Oyelowo, who starred in 2013’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Thus far, Selma has claimed several awards including a Critics Choice Award and Golden Globe Award for the song “Glory,” crafted by rapper Common and R&B singer John Legend.
On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the cast of Selma arrived in Selma for a special ceremony honoring Dr. King as well as other activists involved.
The film gives viewers a brief glance of the lengths activists took to receive equal treatment from the government and other officials. It also highlights one of King’s greatest feats before his assassination in 1968. To this day, King is known as one of the greatest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.