David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Ava DuVarney directed Selma
There's a memorable scene in the new film Selma where "A Change Is Gonna Come" comes on the car radio in the background - kind of faintly but still enough to hear it and to feel the soul of the song thanks to both the late great Sam Cooke's hauntingly beautiful voice and the powerful message of a promise of hope that the 1963 recorded song delivers. That desired need for change for African Americans is something that is as relevant today as it was five decades ago! Indeed the release of the new Ava DuVarney directed film Selma could not be more timely; and not just that it was scheduled to open coming up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day but considering how the issues of civil rights for African Americans in the sixties, that are the subject of this wonderful film, have become so ever-relevant again in 2015.
Opened to wide release on Friday (Jan 9, 2015) the emotionally charged film is a dramatization of the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama voting rights marches of 1965 that were led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played to perfection by British actor David Oyelowo in an Oscar worthy performance) and by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Furthermore for me personally the timing of catching a screening of Selma this past week was even more perfect since earlier on that very same evening, at The National Black Theatre in Harlem, I had attended a screening of a similarly themed but totally different film; the incendiary new documentary The Mike Brown Rebellion: Resistance in Ferguson. That low-budget - yet nonetheless powerful - DIY documentary, produced by the NYC based Rebel Diaz Arts Collective who had traveled down to Ferguson, Missiouri in the days following the August 2014 police shooting death of the unarmed Mike Brown, succeeded in its goal of presenting an alternate, front-lines perspective view of that put forward by the mainstream news outlets, as well as a making a lasting "tool for education and starting discussions around policing…" In fact immediately following the screening of the film in Harlem, that was presented by the Zulu Nation, those in attendance including one of the filmmakers Rod Starz and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa joined a discussion on the topics raised in the documentary.