Will and I went to "Selma" this afternoon. I got emotional within a few minutes and stayed that way. First I want to give a nod and thank you to Spike Lee for doing it his way anyway whether Hollywood was ready to fund it or push it or not, and doing whatever he had to do to get a powerful Malcolm X film to the theaters from his own pocket and his friends' and set the path for films like this one.
"Selma" came at the right time in Hollywood's development -- a generation of producers and the financial backing to do everything right and a new generation of directors to bring it into the now. And just in time.
Seeing it tonight just brought it home like a punch to the gut which path we have chosen. Dr. King said in his Beyond Viet Nam Speech, that this nation was at a crossroads between being a thing oriented society or a people oriented society. Clearly we are quite a ways down that road of thing-oriented if one is to look at how vulnerable these precious voting rights, hard won with the lives of young martyrs and the blood and sweat and many tears, have become in this time, how militarized the police violence against Black Lives. I say this because there is a direct correlation between oppression against Black Brown and Indigenous and the rise of a Police State and erosion of rights. In our country, that would be suffered on racial lines and with genocide.
You've heard the talk about the great movement in civil rights made at such great sacrifice and cost in the Sixties being rolled back in this century. This film brings that home. Police brutality and killings of innocent Black people, militarized technology used against courageous protest, and police getting away with it should be a thing of the past. That the brutality was shown on the televisions at home in living rooms across the US, it mobilized a nation. But now, the lack of media coverage of Ferguson, of Black Lives Matter, except through social media, and the militarization of police, blatant murder Black and Brown and Indigenous lives by shocking numbers without justice, that alone shows a roll back. The false blocks to voting, in fact the manipulation of the democratic process to prevent one person one vote has our attention now. There are more than I want to list here but the point is this is an all too relevant film which reveals how far backwards we have fallen into this country's white supremacy noxious weed roots.
I applaud the director and her powerfully talented and gifted actors for making all the points with such humanity and love. Such respect was shown to the civil rights warriors of the Sixties. Some still living helped by sharing those small facts and stories we did not know, by helping the director see and feel how it was then to go into the towns and villages where Jim Crow ruled with violence, how it was to be welcomed, how it was to be in the company of the families of a great resistance movement who refused to just quit fighting for justice generation after generation. This film does not leave Selma caught in history. This film brings Selma to life right here and right now. This film does not take the guts out of a speech made by Dr. King and serve it out fluffy. This film, first shows the MANY, elderly and children, martyred or relentless, who inspired such courage in him to lead. The shadow of President Johnson, unleashing the distorted FBI on King hung over the preacher activist leader from the moment Johnson picked up the phone to consider J Edgar's crazed offer, to get rid of "him." It shows that working for justice through legislation in the Nation's Capitol was as dangerous and isolating as any place could be, an assassin's smile came with every politician's handshake. This is not kumbaya non violence -- or, because I am from that time, kumbaya was never fluffy, but always face to face with the most virulent kind of violence.
"Selma" should be shown every year to remind people what non-violence REALLY is and why so much is owed to the Black martyrs and White martyrs who marched among the devil for the right to be human beings during and AFTER segregation was supposedly dead. Selma should be shown to every school child if for only to hear the activist elder say to Coretta that running through her veins was blood of the great ones, the scholars and great leaders, chemists, and those who resisted fearful things to courageously fight for justice and THAT is what their training is, to be descendants of such ancestors!