Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Movie “Selma” Receives Critical Acclaim While Revealing Nation’s Current Racial Tensions

Contributed by on January 7, 2015 at 1:36 am

selmaParamount Pictures’ new movie “Selma” was released at select theaters at the end of December and will open nationwide on January 9. The movie has received considerable critical acclaim, but has also drawn criticisms from both conservative pundits and respected historians.


“Selma” takes place over the course of three months in 1965 as Martin Luther King, Jr. and the supporters of the American Civil Rights movement attempt to secure voting rights for African-Americans. The central events are the three marches, led by King, from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March of 1965. These marches ultimately secured the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.


The Voting Rights Act made racial discrimination in voting illegal. This included disenfranchisement based on race or any state or local voting regulations which resulted in large-scale disenfranchisement of African-Americans, such as poll taxes, educational or knowledge requirements, unfair redistricting, and limited access to polling places.


Some conservatives have claimed that the movie perpetuates false claims that the events of March 1965 in Alabama are related to the events in Ferguson, Missouri this past summer, when the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a local policeman sparked protests nationwide, especially after a grand jury failed to indict the officer.


On the other side, historians who specialize in the history of the Civil Rights era, the Voting Rights Act, and the life and work of President Lyndon Johnson, claim the movie plays fast and loose with facts of history and obscures the hard work of thousands of unnamed heroes in order to instead focus on Martin Luther King, Jr.


The movie has been nominated for Golden Globes in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Song. “Selma” will be shown for free at the Walton Theater in the Selma, Alabama, beginning on January 9, in addition to its regular nationwide release.