At the New York premiere, stars of the movie Selma protested peacefully. The stars spent time pointing out similarities between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the protests surrounding the recent killings of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.
Selma is based on marches led by Martin Luther King Jr from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in 1965. During the three-month stretch, Dr. King led a dangerous and volatile campaign that aimed to attain equal voting rights. The ordeal ended with President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
David Oyelowo, who plays Dr. King in the film, commented that they could not have predicted the drama that surround Michael Brown and Eric Garner. He also pointed out that “we do not live in a post-racial America.” Selma finished shooting in July, and in August Michael Brown was gunned down.
Star Lorraine Toussaint brought her daughter to the protest prior to the premiere. She hopes that their movie will show the reality of the racial struggle and the need for others to participate in educating society.
Fellow Selma actor Wendell Pierce demonstrated his distress in the situation by wearing a t-shirt to the red carpet premiere that read “I can’t breathe,” in honor of Garner who recently died at the hands of a police officer who put him in a chokehold. Pierce also pointed out that although the movie is about events from the sixties, the real story is that the same issues are still prevalent today.
Tyler Perry made an appearance at the premiere to support his friend Oprah Winfrey, but felt inspired by the turnout. He commented that he hopes this will inspire others. Winfrey has a role in the film, but primarily is a producer. Her sentiments echoed those from Pierce saying that although the clothes are different, the issues are the same.
The actors also got together and relayed the film’s lessons for protestors and the media. Winfrey stated that everything was about strategy and knowing what needs to be done. Ava DuVernay shared Winfrey’s sentiment and added that she hopes people learn something. Pierce commented that these issues were “Americanism” and not “activism” issues.
Selma stars gathered in protest at the New York premiere to show their support, including Cuba Gooding Jr, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, and Tim Roth. Also, Martin Luther King III, Tia Mowry, and Aretha Franklin joined in the peaceful demonstration at the premiere.
The peaceful demonstration on the red carpet at the Selma premiere occur at a time when racial inequality seems especially high. With the recent killings of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, tensions have been high and protests have been frequent. Winfrey commented that she believes Selma can be a teaching tool for protesters. Everything in the movie has already happened, and it is happening again, and the key to doing something is to be educated and know what the protests are for what the reasons are for continuing to fight.
The stars of Selma, a film that depicts a tumultuous time in civil rights activism, gathered together in protest at the premiere in New York on Sunday. The hope is to educate others for the cause, much in the way Martin Luther King Jr did.
By Kerri Cushna
Photo by leotravis80 – Flickr License