While Selma plays in theaters across the United States, men and women march on once again in the name of equality. Selma shows us that much progress has been made. Reality shows us that we still have a long way to go.
R.I.P. Martin Luther King. Your story has been told. Your legacy passed on. Your strategies for non-violent demonstrations shared. Your ability for changing hearts, minds and laws well-documented.
Ava DuVernay's Selma could be subtitled "behind the scenes of a hagiography." Apart from the stock footage of The famous march from Selma to Montgomery it's not cinema verite in the style of say The Battle of Algiers.
"You" and "me" became "we" in service to our shared needs. But when other groups showed up, "we" became "us," a tribe opposed to "them." Violence and destruction too often followed, and we still search for a shared morality that works across tribes.
I have also recently viewed the movie in its entirety. It was not the final cut, but it was done enough for me to offer some thoughts about why this may be one of the most important films to be released in a while.
In 1964, at the height of the civil rights movement, the great organizer Ella Baker said: "Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest."
The idea of Important differs from Best: for American Sniper, Selma, and Unbroken, Best is beside the point. Each film is enormously engaging, highly recommended, and grounded in history on a large canvas.
In Selma, we see the most private moments of Dr. King with his wife, their relationship strained by his activism and the risks he is taking, and by tapes the FBI sent to Mrs. King revealing her husband's affairs. Oyelowo explained why those scenes were "a gift" to him as an actor.
It is very likely that generations coming of age today will abandon -- out of choice or necessity -- the Dream of consumption and replace it with their own definition. The Dream is evolving, not dying.
It's not like Michael Keaton's career was kaput, but it seems like he raised himself from the dead with this invigorating performance. Mexican director/writer Alejandro González Iñárritu gave Keaton a plum role.
As a father, a son, an uncle, a nephew, a brother, and a college president, I must ask myself, "How do I protect my son in a society where there is something structurally wrong with how young black men are treated by the criminal justice system?
The Civil Rights Movement was itself the fruit of the shared spiritual yearnings of blacks and Indians. Therefore, South Asian immigrants are under historical, moral and spiritual obligations to refuse offers of white privilege and join in solidarity with African-Americans.
It is good that we are unsettled right now as Americans. It is good that this is a moment which pushes our faces into the ugliness of our national reality as it is, and that will not allow us to simply to glance away as we wish that it was otherwise.
Recently, several St. Louis Rams players protested the Ferguson non-indictment, pantomiming "hands up, don't shoot" as they came on the field. But in the '60s, the intersection of sports, politics and religion reached its zenith in the person of Muhammad Ali.
The Prime Minister of India's new campaign draws strength from Gandhi's own example of direct action.
One might think that, by turning Martin Luther King, Jr., into a cultural icon and electing a black president, America has bid farewell to its racist past. Recent events in Ferguson, MO, New York, and Phoenix, however, blow holes in that fantasy.