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Marching toward equality: Ava DuVernay’s powerful ‘Selma’ retells a key episode in the American civil rights movement

February 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 7, 2015

Selma, the 2014 film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb, is a moving chronicle of the civil rights struggle in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

The film’s protagonist is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic American and civil rights leader, and the movie’s focus is on his effort to stage a march from Selma to Montgomery. At the time, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were attempting to register blacks to vote, a right theoretically granted them by the Constitution but thwarted in reality by bigoted state and local officials.

The conference chose Selma as the backdrop to their 1965 protests because the Dallas County sheriff, Jim Clark, was a deep-seated bigot and notorious hothead in a state led by Gov. George Wallace, a fervent segregationist. King and other movement leaders believed that law enforcement officials, especially Clark, could be goaded into acts of brutality that would shock the consciences of people around the nation and the world.

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