Sunday, February 15, 2015

When democracy and freedom are a sham

I highly recommend the movie Selma, based on the Selma to Montgomery marches that were key events in the USA civil rights movement, leading to passage of the Voting Rights Act, 50 years ago. It is moving, disturbing, and inspirational.

It seems hard to believe that only fifty years ago, it was virtually impossible for African-Americans to register to vote in southern states such as Alabama. Furthermore, peaceful protests were met with brutal violence. Yet that is true and so it is good to be confronted with it.

On the one hand, one can take comfort and encouragement from the fact that such blatant and systematic racial discrimination, intimidation, and violence no longer takes place. Furthermore, many African-Americans now hold political office, even President. On the other hand, it is very disturbing that there are still systematic/subtle attempts to stop certain social groups [mostly poor] from voting, through programs such as mandatory voter ID. And then there is police brutality, ....

Like any movie, based on historical events, the directors and writers have taken "creative" license to change some details, listed in great detail here.

The movie nicely captures how Martin Luther King Jr. was an inspirational figure, but human and struggling with fear, anxiety, relationships, and strategy. It also highlights the key role played by other leaders, such as Diane Lane, Andrew Young, John Lewis, and James Bevel.

Selma also highlights the dubious role played by the FBI who kept King and the movement under surveillance, including bugging their phones and sending intimidating letters and phone calls to King's wife.

The best quote in the movie: John Lewis says
‘I don’t see how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam … and can’t send troops to Selma.” 

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