The movie Selma was released in the United States on Christmas Day 2014. For most students at Westminster, including myself, Selma, Alabama has been known only as the location of the last three State Track and Field meets. However, after seeing the movie named after this historic city, my eyes are opened to its deeper significance.
The movie begins with a scene about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which I am familiar with since it happened in my home city and I have read books about it before. However, after seeing the rest of this film, I realize how little I actually knew about the Civil Rights Movement, specifically those events which occurred after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Watching this movie, my initial response was sorrow and shame. For all these years I never really knew what exactly went on just a few decades before I was born. The denial of basic rights to African Americans in the south breaks my heart. I could not bear to watch the beating and disrespect depicted in this film. I feel as though I have been oblivious to what truly was going on during the Civil Rights Movement.
While this movie opened my eyes, and I am grateful for it, I know that many left the theater with either a sense of guilt for what had happened or a sense of anger for what their families went through. The fact that this movie is a true story and occurred so close to home had me even more engaged because of the personal element.
After the movie, I had the chance to listen to a pastor reflect on its significance for Christianity. His response was powerful. He said the best way for someone to show that they care is not to do, but to listen, and to weep with their friend for what has happened. We cannot change what happened in Selma, or what occurred during those many years of discrimination. But we can be a part of the stand against ever again letting that time in history repeat itself.
By Olivia Godfrey, Class of 2016