I grew up in Alabama and was there during the Birmingham bombing and the march from Selma to the capital, Montgomery. My father marched with Dr. King and it is a period of history I lived through as a child and have read a great deal about.
I saw Selma, was not expecting a documentary, just a drama and am shocked people of my age seemingly know so little about this civil rights era. Nonetheless, here are 10 things I learned from screening Selma:
1. Brad Pitt is an executive producer.
2. I had no idea Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. smoked cigarettes.
3. The actors playing Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Bayard Rustin were superb.
4. Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte were but two celebrities participating in the walk as seen in archival footage in the film.
5. There was little difference in terms of culpability between President Lyndon Johnson and Alabama Governor George C. Wallace.
6. The use of the FBI logs as graphics in the film was illuminating and brilliant.
7. John Legend and Common, who also acts in the film, referenced Ferguson in a song in the film.
8. Ledisi and Mahalia Jackson are both in the production through song.
9. My father was asked to name all the capitals the first time he registered to vote in Alabama.
10. The director, Ava Duvernay, is the first African American female to be nominated for a Golden Globe.