Selma wasn’t just a movie for me; it was an experience. It jarred me to the core and shook my spirit free of any complacency. I cried (for the first time in a long time), I smiled, I grimaced. I felt pride and angst simultaneously. I left the movie theater deep in thought. I’m still processing it’s effect.
I thought I knew a lot about my history, being raised with a culture-conscious, “black is beautiful”, Kwanzaa-celebrating mother. I love my people, and grasp at every chance to learn more about US. After watching Selma, I realized you never quite know enough about your history. Lord knows our school textbooks don’t tell truths. But even some common facts escaped me. Here’s what I (as a socially conscious, 29 year old, educated adult) learned from this amazing movie:
2. The Civil Rights movement was systemic and analytical. While passion sparked the fire to fight for our rights as African Americans, it was the execution of timely, well-planned and dangerous demonstrations. Though some events just unfolded naturally, it was the strategic approach that led to victory.
3. There are too many nameless heroes. There were so, so many countless African Americans who contributed to the cause, many with their life or their livelihood. Now, when I celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I’ll also be reminded to celebrate those nameless ones who I have to thank for my rights today.
4. The Civil Rights Era wasn’t that long ago. Though I used to read about MLK and Malcolm X in my history books, that time of unrest and inequality wasn’t far enough for us to forget, but is just recent enough for us to get complacent. As we tragically witnessed in 2014, African Americans are STILL unjustly being targeted and murdered by the law, and still suffer from so many socioeconomic injustices.
5. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t the angelic pacifist history books painted him to be. After watching Selma, I devoured any article I could related to the making of the movie. One thing that was starkly obvious: MLK was a believer in non-violence, but he wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He’s been stabbed, bombed, beat and jailed amongst other things. He fought long and hard, and paid the ultimate price with his life. He was fierce! He was also an imperfect husband and a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. God rest his soul and his memory.
What about you? What did you learn from Selma?