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Selma: A Candid View into the African American Struggle for Civil Rights

Autor:   •  November 25, 2015  •  Book/Movie Report  •  973 Words (4 Pages)  •  505 Views

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‘Selma’: A candid view into the African American struggle for civil rights

Joshua Barney

HIST 1100 sect 10

November 15, 2015

Selma. Dir. Ava Duvernay. Perf. David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, and Tim Roth. Cloud Eight
Films, 2014. DVD.

        In a slew of movies that have no factual basis and have no true impact on American society, it is refreshing when a movie like Selma comes out. This movie is based on the true events that led up to civil rights activists marching from Selma, Al. to Montgomery, Al. in 1965 and, while teaching an important segment of American history, kept the viewer engaged in what was happening on screen.

        As the movie starts, Duvernay quickly jumps between three scenes: 1964 as Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) is receiving the Nobel Peace prize; the 1963 bombing of the Baptist Church in Birmingham, Al where four your black girls tragically died; finally,  Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) attempting to register to vote in Alabama but being quizzed with increasingly difficult questions in order to deny her the federally guaranteed right to vote. The director uses the three scenes in such quick succession to show the imbalance and inequality that was so prevalent in the United States at the time;  it is a terribly effective juxtaposition of a southern black man winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his works with Civil Rights while at the same time so many.

        The events that happen during the movie are during the presidency of Lyndon B Johnson  (Tom Wilkinson) and the very next scene of the movie is of King trying to get the President to federally support the civil rights movement, but Johnson evades. This evasion shows as the moral character of Johnson, temperance and conciliation towards civil rights, until he is backed into a corner at the very end of the movie.

        Unsatisfied with the response from Johnson,  King heads to Alabama in search of dramatic events to spearhead the civil rights movement hoping to bring awareness of the fight to center stage for the American masses. In Selma, Kings first act is to organize a nonviolent sit-in  in front of the county’s voter registration. This rally brings King face-to-face with Sheriff  Jim Clark (Stan Houston), who is the embodiment of violent southern white supremacists. This rally, of course, ends up in King and many of his followers being arrested.

        After King gets out of jail and leaves Selma, the civil rights group continues to organize events. The first event is an evening rally organized, to which Sheriff Clark responds.  Sheriff Clark has all of the street lights of Selma turned off and has the police attack the peaceful protestors. Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield) and his parents flee the beating and enter a restaurant hoping to avoid further confrontation. This effort fails as they are pursued by four officers, one of which shoots and murders Jimmie. Afterwards, the group decides that they will march from Selma to Montgomery. King was originally supposed to march with the group but cancelled the evening before due to marital issues. The group carried on with the march and it was forcibly ended at the Edmund Pettus Bridge leaving Selma. Sheriff Clark was waiting for the activists at the end of the bridge, informed the marchers that they were to disperse immediately; when they did not move fast enough, Sheriff Clark sent in officers with tear gas and batons. This march and the police attack were captured by national news cameras and were broadcast throughout the country in what has come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”

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