Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King and many other black leaders led thousands of people on a fifty mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery to protest that state's refusal to allow people of color to vote.
The new film, SELMA, recreates that time and place, and it's a powerful, well made, superbly acted movie about the brutal confrontation in Selma that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This is the kind of movie that can make you feel that you are right there, experiencing the the fear and the passion and the full humanity of the people who lived through it. It's a movie everyone should see.
King: Mr. President. In the south there have been thousands of racially motivated murders. We need your help.
LBJ: Dr. King. This thing is just going to have to wait.
King: It cannot wait.
The only flaw in this terrific movie is that it depicts President Johnson as opposed to Martin Luther King. In reality, the two of them were allies against George Wallace, the Alabama governor who wanted to keep blacks from voting.
Wallace: We will not tolerate agitators attempting to orchestrate a disturbance in this state!
But everything else about SELMA feels real and authentic. The performance of David Oyelowo as King is especially fine. Oyelowo shows us the fear and the doubt as well as the strength and wisdom of his belief in strictly nonviolent protest.
The images of peaceful protestors being clubbed and beaten by
Alabama state troopers were broadcast nationwide. And many who saw them came to Alabama in support of the their cause.
King: Those that have gone before us say, “No More.” We're not asking. We're demanding. Give us the vote!
In one of the films most poignant scenes, King meets the father of a man who's son was murdered by the police.
King: There are no words to soothe you, but I an tell you one thing for certain. God was the first to cry. He was the first to cry for your boy.
In another vivid scene, Oprah Winfrey plays a nurse who tries to register to vote.
The film also depicts the troubled relationship of King and his wife who's played by Carmen Ejogo.
And as history recorded, on their third attempt, the protestors finally succeeded in making their peaceful march.
King: I may not be with them for all the sunny days to come but as long as there's light ahead for them, it's worth it to me.
SELMA truly deserves its Oscar nomination for Best Picture of 2014.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org