“Selma”: More Students to View Film for Free; “Selma” Crew Going Back to Selma, AL

There’s so much Selma news that’s been on my radar, but I haven’t had the time to post. So here goes.

Selma screened for 275,000 students across US

I’ve been updating COLOR with news about kids in New York are able to view Selma for free until MLK Day (Jan. 19). Since my last post about it, even more cities have joined New York, with the count now at 25 locations across the nation.

There are a lot of quotes from prominent black business leaders who helped spearhead this initiative, so I’ll just blockquote what has been written in the press release:

Due to the generous contributions by so many of the country’s most prominent African-American business leaders, more than 275,000 middle and high school students across the U.S. will experience the critically acclaimed film for free at participating theaters while supplies last.

The new locations joining the movement are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Central Florida/Orlando, Connecticut, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Montgomery, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and St. Louis.

“Paramount Pictures is extremely proud of this film, which is so clearly resonating with audiences young and old,” said Megan Colligan, President, Worldwide Distribution and Marketing, Paramount Pictures. “It’s a testament to the extraordinary talents of Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo and the entire cast and crew that ‘SELMA’ is being celebrated by communities all over the country.”

The business leaders who are leading the efforts in the new locations are:

· Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendents, Atlanta Public Schools; Dr. Michael Lomax, President & CEO, United Negro College Fund; Hala Moddelmog, President & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, President, Morehouse College, in Atlanta

“This movie is an educational moment for more than 10,000 Atlanta Public Schools students who we are inviting to see this film. I am proud and humbled by the immediate outpouring of support from our Atlanta community who has joined this growing national movement,” said Meria J. Carstarphen, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools and Selma, Alabama native. “Our Atlanta education partners believe in our students, and I am grateful for the opportunity they are providing our students to see one of the most pivotal moments in American history.”

“‘SELMA’ is such an important film for young people to see now in the wake of Ferguson, Cleveland and New York. The struggle for justice is a long one, and Selma is history that a new generation needs to know more fully,” said Lomax. “So, I felt it was imperative to join with others around the country who were raising funds so middle and high school students can see the film, learn their history and be inspired to make the civil rights and justice lifelong pursuits.”

· Robert F. Smith, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, in Austin

“It is of the utmost importance to expose our young people to the courage, compassion and integrity that is brought to life in the film ‘SELMA.’ It illuminates a period of American history that is very relevant today,” said Smith. “Dr. King has been a source of inspiration for me and for many people of all races and ethnicities. I consider this not just an opportunity, but a responsibility, to bring his message and his dream to the students of Austin.”

· Sylvia Brown, Board Member, John Hopkins Healthcare Advisory Board, in Baltimore

“Baltimore is proud to be a part of this wonderful effort. We hope that young audiences find inspiration and encouragement in the film and in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s story,” said Brown.

· Grant Hill, former NBA player; Harold Mills, Chief Executive Officer, ZeroChaos; Clarence Otis, retired Chairman & CEO, Darden Restaurants; and Ron Williams, former Chairman & CEO of Aetna in Central Florida/Orlando

“The story of Dr. King’s historic journey in Alabama is one that students all over the country should know intimately,” said Otis. “It’s an honor to provide the opportunity for students in Central Florida to see Ava DuVernay’s beautiful film.”

· Dr. Laurence C. Morse, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Fairview Capital Partners, Inc., in Connecticut

“I am privileged to have been able to join with an extraordinary group of concerned, civic- minded individuals in the State of Connecticut to provide an opportunity for a number of young people who might not otherwise have been able to do so, to see and experience this deeply moving, engaging film about a critically important period in our nation’s recent history, and in the continuing evolution of our democracy,” said Morse.

· Faye Alexander Nelson, President, DTE Energy Foundation; Tonya Allen, President & CEO, The Skillman Foundation; Lisa Dancsok, Vice President, Quicken Loans; Mariam C. Noland, President, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; Vivian R. Pickard, President, General Motors Foundation; Laura Trudeau, Managing Director, Detroit, Kresge Foundation; and Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation in Detroit

“Detroit students will have the opportunity to join with students across the country to view ‘SELMA’ thanks to the generosity of a group of national and local foundations and corporations. We are pleased to help coordinate the generous commitments of the DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Foundation, General Motors Foundation, Kresge Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, and Quicken Loans,” said Noland.

· T. Warren Jackson, Senior Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, DIRECTV, and Debra Martin Chase, CEO, Martin Chase Productions, in Los Angeles

“It’s important that the civil rights struggle depicted in ‘SELMA’ reach as many young people as possible so that the enduring lessons of the civil rights movement can be harnessed to inspire them to transform their lives and communities. We appreciate the support of the California Endowment, and have enlisted the Constitutional Rights Foundation to work with the schools in creating a broader educational program to insure just that,” said Jackson.

“As a filmmaker, I recognize the transformative power of film; that’s why the overwhelming response to the ‘SELMA’ initiative here in Los Angeles and across the nation is so heartening. It’s a reminder of the importance of voting and civics engagement and demonstrates how anything can be accomplished through creativity and collective effort,” said Martin Chase.

· Gayle S. Rose, Chief Executive Officer, Electronic Vaulting Services, in Memphis

“On behalf of former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr., we are thrilled to provide 10,000 7th, 8th and 9th grade Memphis students the gift of this film and what history has to teach us,” said Rose. “We thank Paramount Pictures, Malco Theaters, and many generous donors who made this happen in a matter of days. This is a testament to the charitable nature of our people.”

· Ira D. Hall, resident of Miami Beach, FL, and Dr. Sherrlyn Scott, Supervisor, Department of Social Sciences Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in Miami

“Over 5,500 Miami Dade and Ft. Lauderdale students can now see for free ‘SELMA,’ the movie that so powerfully portrays the courage, tenacity, humanity and moral strength of Alabama citizens, combined with the extraordinary brilliance and moral conviction of key civil rights and national leaders. That unstoppable coalition jointly fought for and won the rights of African Americans to vote! It is wonderful that students today can feel and sense this history so strikingly brought to life in ‘SELMA,’” said Hall.

“We are thankful to our contributors in Miami who quickly organized to support such a worthy endeavor,” said Scott. “Their generosity will make a lasting impact on the students in our community.”

· Alden McDonald, President, Liberty Bank, and Neill Wright, First Tuskegee Bank President, in Montgomery

“This effort is an integral part of our corporate philosophy of linking our heritage to our vision of true equality for all the people we serve,” said McDonald.

“In as much as Montgomery is part of the journey we took as a people to gain voting rights in the 1960s, we have joined with other business leaders and concerned citizens to provide free access to the ‘SELMA’ film for local students. We believe that we continue to make the historical connections for this generation to ‘keep the dream’ of true equality alive and well,” said Wright.

· Dr. Eugene Flood, Jr., EVP and President of Diversified Financial Services, TIAA-CREF, in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill

“We are pleased to support this unprecedented program for North Carolina students to be able to see this remarkable film,” said Flood.

· Rev. Starsky Wilson, President & CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, in St. Louis

“It is important that St. Louis students are informed about this moment in history its connections to the challenges they face today,” said Rev. Wilson. “We are grateful for Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation and African American leaders joining us in this effort. We believe this experience will nurture civic engagement among young people and give them hope that systemic change is possible through cooperative, intentional, and well-planned efforts.”

These business leaders are following the lead of those in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sarasota, FL, Washington D.C. and Westchester.

“This was an important opportunity to educate our children about the heroes of the civil rights movement and keep an important legacy intact. I am proud that our community seized the moment,” said Fletcher “Flash” Wiley, Counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, who helped to organize the efforts in Boston.

The nationwide efforts are inspired by the success of the program in New York City, in which 27 African-American business leaders created a fund for 27,000 of the city’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to see the film for free. Due to the overwhelming demand, the New York City effort sold out in the very first weekend and was expanded to 75,000 tickets.

To see if your city is hosting free screenings and for last-minute group tickets, go to selmamovie.com/studenttickets. Students must present a student ID or report card to gain admittance.

Selma crew coming back to Selma, AL

What a time to be out of Alabama! Since moving to Miami, it seems like more and more stuff is happening in my home state, and the filming of Selma was one of them. It’s my dream to be an extra in one of these period movies, having tried out for an extras spot in 42 when it was in my city, Birmingham. But I didn’t make it for my doggone baby face (I’m assuming, since the extras I did see outside the Alabama Theatre had faces with character that could be picked up by cameras). So now, not only did I miss a shot at being a Selma extra, but now I’m missing out on when Oprah and the Selma crew will be back in Selma, AL for a march and for a free screening. You can read more about this at ABC News.

If you’re in Selma or going to Selma, let me know how it was! If you have some first-hand accounts, feel free to email me or tweet me. Also, I’ll be looking for Instagram and Twitter posts and put together a post sometime tomorrow or Tuesday.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King. Picture credit: Paramount Pictures, Pathé, Harpo Films

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