After screening Ava DuVarney’s ‘Selma’ I felt like I took a trip back in time. The film covered so many bases, some even thought to be taboo at one point.
The movie was a great look at a time that’s not so forgone. Walking away from the theater, I did walk away with 5 things I didn’t know before. Actually, 4 things I didn’t know before and 1 thing I knew but I was shocked the rest of the audience didn’t.
1. A Relationship is A Relationship
In today’s world, we’re often fascinated by what we call, “celebrity couples.” We know when they’re on a date, we know when they argue. We believe we know so much about them, that we’ll decide whether or not we want to base our own relationship off theirs.
Dr. King Jr. and Coretta Scott-King would’ve definitely been a celebrity couple at the time. They were lucky to not have social media or gossip tv shows prying into every small crevice of their lives. That didn’t mean that when you pulled back the curtain there wasn’t dirt on the windows.
‘Selma’ actually addresses Dr. King’s possible infidelity. One scene, you see Coretta and Dr. King sitting in the living room. A huge tape recorder is in front of them. After she presses play, you soon get un-comfortable as you hear a man and woman groaning as if they were in the midst of doing the dirty! Without a blink, Dr. King denies its him on the tape. Meanwhile she responds even quicker with, “I know. I know how you sound.”
She followed up by asking Dr. King if he loved her. He confirms. Then she asks if he loves the others. As the crowd gets silent, he eventually mumbles no.
Whether he cheated on her or not, issues in the relationship were known by everyone from J. Edgar Hoover to people in his inner-circle. Rather than break-up, they actually formed a tighter bond, one that it is seen in many pictures today.
As much as we want to prop them up as a model couple, know that they had issues like any other couple.
2. Egos Will Ruin A Lot
From the battle between Dr. King and SNCC over who was really leading the charge in Selma to the pissing contest between King, Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace, egos almost ruined our country at a pivotal point.
One clash of the egos left me wondering, “what if.” An impromptu appearance by Malcolm X in Selma put everyone on edge. The government was worried what would come from any meeting of the two. After speaking personally with Coretta, Malcolm explained how he changed his views and was no longer with the Nation and that he wanted to serve as a distraction for Dr. King so he can plan the march in peace while all eyes focus on him. Sounds like a power plan right?
Wrong! When Coretta brought the idea to Dr. King, not only did he shoot it down citing power struggles and past remarks Malcolm made toward Dr. King, he ended the conversation by telling her she sounded a little too enthusiastic when speaking about him.
It was that moment, I saw why two of the greatest leaders in our time couldn’t work together for a common good. Egos. Too much pride, not wanting to forgive. All that stopped a possible unstoppable union. Malcolm was shot dead weeks later.
3. George Wallace Had A Change Of Heart
Former Alabama Governor George Wallace was a bad man. Played on screen to perfection by Tim Roth, you see a vile man who hated Black people for no other reason than politically he couldn’t.
While he might be remembered as a fiercely racists man, he didn’t die that way as the movie would want you to believe.
After he was shot and paralyzed in 1972, Wallace had a major change of heart. He would go on to renounce his racists ways and work hard with Blacks to repair some of the things that he put in motion.
Who’s to say if he truly meant what he did earlier in his life or later. What is known is that you can’t tell his story without mentioning it.
4. I Would Walk 500 Miles…
Would you? I often hear people say what they would do back then, but they speak about it from now. It’s easy to say you’ll walk 500 miles when you don’t have too. In a world of Lyft and Uber and GPS everything, walking 500 miles is something a very small group of our population would honestly do for start to finish. These people carried luggage and supplies in their hands and marched in unison to Montgomery to prove a point.
I’m not really sure how eager people would be to trade places with those protestors, especially after watching the reality that was the time.
5. Selma Alabama Doesn’t Get Enough Respect
My moms family is from Camden Alabama. That small farm town is a hop, skip and a jump from that other small hick town called Selma. I spent a bulk of my childhood playing on my granddaddy’s farm and hearing stories about Selma, but it never dawned on me why they spoke about the place with such high regard. To me, it was another town in Alabama that was no bigger than the neighborhood in Boston I lived in.
Watching ‘Selma’ made me wish I asked more questions as a kid. I’ve known the stories of Birmingham and Montgomery, but for some reason, Selma and their place in American history was lost on me.
I’m sure it was lost on others as well. Let’s hope this film makes more do research and learn about the small towns and names who would normally go unrecognized.
‘Selma’ opens in select theaters December 25th, and wider release January 9th.