Sunday, January 11, 2015

SELMA 1/11/15

SELMA directed by Ava DuVernay is a powerful movie. A critical historical period in America, filmed as if we were there at the point in time when Martin Luther King was making crucial life and death decisions affecting future generations of black men and women and their legal right to vote without the restrictions that the state of Alabama put upon each African American citizen with the intention of depriving them of that inalienable right.  Dr. Martin Luther King had just received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, and comes home to Atlanta, Georgia, finding himself under constant surveillance by Edgar J. Hoover's FBI - disrespected and characterized as a "degenerate rabble rouser". The contrast is stunning.

SELMA brings to life Dr. King's  decision a year after the 1963 bombing murder of four young girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama drew national attention to the civil rights struggle  -  to march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, the state capitol where the racist Governor, George Wallace  (Tim Roth) sat, in order to challenge  a Governor who is determined to crush the legality of black people, who have the courage to stand up to his confederate fiefdom, and register to vote. The fire-power of the state  is called upon to mercilessly crush the marchers time and time again.

The road to victory involves a non-violent vision and heart piercing violence -  confronting hatred based solely on skin color. King's strategizing in his confrontations with Lyndon Baines Johnson, the President of the Unites States who is sympathetic, but prefers his own agenda in dealing with voting rights laws and initially plans to focus on his War on Poverty legacy. Martin Luther King' realizes that time is of the essence; his uncertainty in the face of great certainty; his tense yet sensual relationship with his delicately beautiful wife Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejoga) and David Oyelowo's dignified, humane performance as MLK had me hiding my face to wipe away tears. Innocent people demanding what is rightfully theirs and being bludgeoned in the process is difficult to watch, but this is history that must be revisited and imprinted upon every generation.

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