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On Seeing the Movie SELMA

Last night members of Arlington United for Justice with Peace went to see the timely movie Selma that just opened at our hometown movie theater, The Capitol.

The actors give rather understated performances in a slow-paced film punctuated by violence. The bombing of the Birmingham church is set squarely at the beginning and although I knew what was coming I jumped at the horror of it: Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair.

I found one scene between local hero Amelia Boynton and Coretta Scott King to be particularly heart-felt. Coretta expresses a sense of not being prepared for what is needed, and Amelia tells her that the blood of the ancestors and their great civilization is within her and she is prepared for having come from a people who had been enslaved, yet were able to love.

It is worth stating that Amelia Boynton was one of the residents who supported SNCC organizer Bernard Lafayette in 1963 when he arrived in Selma to organize the voting rights project.

She was beaten unconscious in the melee at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the infamous “bloody Sunday” when the first march was attacked by the local and state police and the white community. Amelia Boynton Robinson is still alive today – she is 103.

My overwhelming feeling upon seeing the movie how painful it was. The history of murderous, violent terror that African-Americans lived under, the murder of those who stood with them in the struggle is a harsh history. And most of all, it is painful to know that the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X set the roadblock onto the path to peace through social and economic justice that is blocked to this very day.

After the movie we needed to sit together for a while and talk about our concerns that the rights that came at such a cost are being undermined, our nation is still at war, the planet is in trouble,  the police are killing black men and when is the next protest – for we shall overcome!

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