Selma is a must see movie that speaks to the explosive power of social change characterizing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. It speaks to the charisma, vision and indisputable eloquence of Martin Luther King, Jr. who’s oratorical and leadership skills remain unparalleled in US history. As a man, King embraced not only the faith and hope of his people but also their needs. He felt, deeply felt, their need for social equality. He felt their pain as a disadvantaged minority. He knew that the key to social change rested in the hands of the President and the Congress. He knew that true equality, social and political justice can never exist without sufficient and adequate laws to support it. He knew that the power to create legislative change required enormous public pressure. And he knew that the way to create public pressure started with feet on the ground in Selma, Alabama.
For those of us who lived through those times, who marched, demonstrated, cheered, joined and supported the civil rights movement this was a powerfully evocative movie. I remember those times, those marches and protests, those campaign efforts. I remember seeing those faces on TV; seeing that demonstration at the courthouse steps. I remember the tears, the cheers, the terror. I remember the voices, the speeches and the fervor. I remember feeling the passion for change and the need to fight for social change. I remember how incensed we were when confronted with that hard-boiled hatred, the result of years of festering racial prejudice and I remember how much people risked to stand tall and be counted.
When I think about the man and his clearly defined mission, the obstacles he faced and the courage he personified I feel that we are in his debt. We owe Martin Luther King more than a holiday in his honor, more than a few highways in his memory, more than a museum, more than a few chapters in US History books; more than… well you get the point. His assassination left a hole in our world that remains unfilled. It’s tragic that we will never know what he would have accomplished had his life not ended. I feel grateful to have experienced the vibrancy of that man and that time and to have been a part of the movement that set our country on its still continuing path toward social, racial and religious equality.