On January 15th, I had the day off and I went to see the new film by Oprah Winfrey, Selma.
As I write this, tears are welling in my eyes because of all of the emotions stirred up in me by the film.
I was sitting in that darkened theater watching as those four pretty little Black girls and one handsome young man, all dressed in their ‘Sunday Go To Meeting’ clothes descended the stairs of the 16th Street Baptist Church and I knew what was coming. I wanted to scream, ‘move,’ but history is a thing unchangeable.
It is hard to grasp in this day and age, the brutally and hatred of those years. You want to look back and tell yourself that that happened in some other country and to some other people. Not us. Surely we have enough sense to know that skin color is only a visual illusion set upon us by a God who felt us unworthy to trend on his territory. And so far, we’ve done nothing but prove him right. As a Pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that and he set about to change our perceptions of each other so that God might change his view of us. And by ‘us,’ I mean all of us, red, yellow, black, white, and brown.
I only wish that the film had come out much earlier so that the people of Ferguson, Missouri might have had an opportunity to see it before their nights of burning, looting, and rioting in the name of justice. Perhaps, if they had seen what true strength and courage, in the face of racial discrimination looks like, perhaps things might have gone differently.
Perhaps, if they’d never heard about Jimmy Lee Jackson and his death.
Something else the movie Selma, also struck a particular chord with me. It was when Lyndon B. Johnson and Dr. King were talking in the White House and President Johnson used the phrase, “A War on Poverty.’ He was setting forth a new ideology that he hoped would change Dr. King’s focus.
While growing up during the late sixties and seventies, I heard that phrase used many times and I thought as most people did, back then, that it was a good thing. But sitting in that theater the other day, I heard it differently – perhaps the way Dr. King must have heard it.
I heard, The War on Poverty – an most Black people living in America are living in poverty – so, i.e. The War on Poverty is a War on Black people. It’s no wonder, Dr. King didn’t fall for it, the way we fell for the War on Drugs.
It is a great film and very thought provoking.
I’dalso like to give a shout out to the Costume Designer, Ruth E. Carter. You really caught the look of that era.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 39 years old when he was murdered (and silenced)!
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