A Look at Selma and Black Liberation in the New Year and Beyond

We are fortunate in the United States that Selma is being released nationwide in theaters across the country. It’s been a long time coming, and a deeper look into the lives of Corretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was passed due. This film comes at a time, just like the Selma marches, when African Americans are questioning our citizenship and worth in this country.

I have been anticipating the movie’s release – knowing that it could come on the heals of the #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe movements. It’s ironic and much needed that such a film would come at a time when these movements are still picking up steam, and when young African-Americans are seeking the kind of respect and dignity from law enforcement and politicians like the people in Selma, Birmingham, and many other places fought and died for. Selma comes at a time when race relations need to be re-examined and re-addressed.

I am disappointed about the critique of the movie – how the director Ava DuVernay has been challenged about the historical content of the film. It’s not surprising, but why can’t we just sit back and enjoy her efforts and revisit an ugly part of this country’s history to continue to dialog about how far we have come, and how far we have to go, in regards to race relations and racial equality in the United States?

She is defending herself well in recent interviews I have seen, however.

Regardless, she brings forth a piece of our history that I have learned some new things from. Such as when the marchers were attempting to get to Birmingham, they were chased all the way back to their churches. This history is important and I hope that our young people are learning this history through this new film. I hope they are taking their newly acquired knowledge back to their schools and classrooms.

Black Liberation is important after such a hard year. 2014 found us right back in the thick of racism, police brutality, and an increased military presence in our cities and states. That military presence existed on that bridge in Selma as marchers were heading to Birmingham for voter rights years ago. The present meets the past and past meets the present. We are still dealing with some of the same issues our ancestors dealt with in their pursuit of freedom and liberation.

What will be different as we enter 2015? What can we use from what we are learning from the past to help us get even further to achieve real liberation in the United States?

These are big questions. Dr. King wanted equality right now back in the 60s. If we asked for that now, what would our equality look like? Ending poverty, inadequate education, mass incarceration, and police brutality in our communities, would be achieving equality and liberation for African Americans.

This country is changing. It is getting browner. I believe that the more we make strides in our collective communities and continue to fight together with our allies, we may see some of that liberation and equality sooner, rather than later.

Copyright Christopher D. Sims
January 8, 2015

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