Thursday, February 5, 2015
“Selma” is one of the 8 motion pictures nominated for 2015 Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. It is one of the 3 remaining nominees (along with “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game“) that is still playing at our local theater.
One of those films, “American Sniper“, is still being shown 5 times a day. “The Imitation Game” is still being shown 4 times a day.
When Sharon and I saw it last weekend, the only 2 showings were 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 p.m.. As of yesterday, the ONLY showing of the film is at 10:15 p.m., which tells me that somebody does not want this film to be watched by a lot of people. Our experience in Flagstaff isn’t unique, since other theaters around the country have very limited show times.
Since its release, “American Sniper” has taken in $250,000,000.
During the same time period, “Selma’s” box office receipts were $44,000,000. That’s still a respectable number, even though it pales in comparison to “American Sniper“. At least some writers consider “Selma” to be the BEST picture still playing in movie theaters.
It took roughly 8 years for “Selma” to get produced, and it was largely due to the efforts of Oprah Winfrey (one of the film’s producers), who had complete faith in the black female director, Ava DeVernay.
It’s a very powerful film, and virtually the entire audience that saw the show with us sat through the entire movie AND all of the credits at the end of the movie. Five minutes into the show, Sharon started to cry, and the picture below will give you a glimpse of what caused her to be upset:
On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Although the law, which outlawed discrimination in a lot of areas, but did not fully protect voting rights for African-Americans., which is the reason that Dr. King felt it necessary to march from Selma to Montgomery in order to protect voting rights. Eventually, of course, he succeeded, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law on August 6, 1965.
We all know that the marchers walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge, but few people actually know the significance of that particular bridge. Construction on the bridge was started in 1939. It was the site of “bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965, and it was named a National Historic Landmark on March 11, 2013.
The man who the bridge was named for was a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, and later became a U.S. Senator in the state of Alabama. Significantly, he was also the first Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, in 1877, so marching across his bridge took an enormous amount of courage.
Now that we’re more than 50 years past the signing of the Civil Rights Act, and close to 50 years past the signing of the Voting Rights Act, you’d think that voting rights were now guaranteed for all Americans, wouldn’t you?
It’s a widely known fact that minority voters tend to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans. In the 2012 Presidential election, Mitt Romney captured only 17% of the non-white vote, and in some precincts, he got no votes at all. The most lopsided results were in Philadelphia, where Romney got no votes at all in 59 precincts.
Since non-whites includes African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans, it’s fairly obvious that the Republican Party is out of touch with a lot of people. Since Latinos are the fastest growing segment of our society, and Caucasians will be the minority by 2042, it’s clear that the Republican Party can’t remain in power unless they cheat, which they have done in 2 area:
During the 2014 mid-term auctions/elections, Senate Democrats got 20,000,000 more votes than the Republicans did, but gerrymandering of voting districts, as well as low voter turnout, helped the Republicans to achieve a 54/46 advantage in the Senate.
2) Voter ID laws
Although voter ID laws date back to 1950, they have exploded in recent years. Today, 34 states have voter ID laws on the books. Although their proponents claim that their purpose is to prevent voter fraud (which is virtually non-existent in our country), their true purpose is to make it more difficult for minorities to vote. That second point became very obvious after June of 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated a key part (prior notification, also known as Section 5) of the Voting Rights Act.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision, legislators in 14 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia) made changes in their laws to make it more difficult to vote for at least a portion of their population. Texas made the changes in its laws the SAME DAY of the Supreme Court ruling.
Martin Luther King made significant strides in protecting the rights of African Americans, which is why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964. You can listen to his acceptance speech by clicking on the link below:
Martin Luther King in Oslo
He was well aware of the fact that the achievement of racial justice can take an awfully long time, which is why it wasn’t until February 5, 1994 that Byron Beckwith was finally convicted of the 1957 murder of Medgar Evers.
One of the key phrases in Martin Luther King’s speech was that violence and civilization cannot exist together. If you put that in the context of Ferguson, Missouri, the 74 school shootings that have taken place since the slaughter in Sandy Hook, and even the popularity of “American Sniper” itself, his words are still very much true today,
Even if “Selma” doesn’t win the Best Picture award, it will still be a success, due to the fact that it will rekindle interest in racial equality, which is a never ending story.
See it while you can.
You’ll be glad that you did.