‘Selma’ resonates with Hampton U. students and faculty

By Miah Harris

"Selma," the African-American and female-directed film, was primarily based on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s unforgettable mission to secure equality for blacks and all mankind.

Since the movie's recent release in local theaters, many viewers, young and wise, have deeply reflected on the true meaning of the right to vote, as they also anticipate celebrating the upcoming holiday.

"I finally see the bigger picture," said sophomore class President, Rashad Williams. Williams, of Raleigh, N.C., along with another Hampton University student, Alix Thomas of New Jersey, agreed that their entire perspective of African-American history has changed after watching this award-winning film. Thomas said her unawareness of Selma's history actually "blew her mind."

These two young, flourishing minds were both proud and disgusted with the constant fight that their forefathers had to endure to end injustice, especially since the right to vote had already been included in the 15th Amendment. The information that Williams and Thomas came away with from the movie truly opened their eyes. They understand the pain that elders experienced and felt excitement and a desire to continue this legacy.

Hampton University History Professor and former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee member Robert Watson, speaks with an insightful eye when he stated that "Selma" is a powerful, Golden Globe-worthy "best movie of the year" and more importantly, an excellent film.

Watson's journey throughout the movement began shortly after he graduated from high school in 1965 and continued into his college years. As a native of Mississippi, Watson's viewing of the movie brought back numerous memories from his participation in many marches, including those targeted toward voting registration. Watson still participates in political and social activism and is a firm believer in observing the King Holiday.

There was picture on Watson's wall that included King and well-known activists, Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson and he explained his admiration and respect for all three. Watson said, "It took blood, sweat and tears to make this a reality and that is why this holiday is so important and truly means a lot to me."

Sandra Kaye Locklin of Atlanta, a former educator and grandmother of five, said that the film was positive and pleasant overall. She believed that the entire cast played their roles well and closely captured history. Although this was the case, Locklin said MLK's relationship with the president was much more positive. President Johnson's support of the movement was better than what was depicted in the film.

Locklin began to reminisce about her younger days as the movie progressed. She was a high school senior when King started the movement in Selma. Locklin grew up in Monroe, Ga., where African-Americans were subservient to Caucasians in public settings. She explained that this passive approach was not only a part of following the Jim Crow Laws, but any altered or outrageous actions could put lives of African Americans in jeopardy.

Her most memorable moment was going to the doctor's office with her mother and siblings. It was mandatory that they to enter through a back door and into a dark and dingy room while patiently waiting to be examined by their physician. "And don't let any one of us be thirsty; we might as well have waited until we got back home," said Locklin.

When asked what the MLK holiday means to her, Locklin said, "It means that I need to pause a little while and reflect on not only what we've been through, but how the movement has changed the lives of many people."

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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