From Selma to Ferguson

UPDATED: STATEMENT FROM REV. BERNICE KING BELOW

I saw an advance screening of “Selma” on Sunday and interviewed David Oyelowo, who portrays the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday.

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Actor David Oyelowo portrays the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.” Photo: Jennifer Brett

 

As a matter of professional practice I must abide by studio protocol, whereby journalists who are able to view advance screenings and interview principals involved with various projects agree not to publish reviews or details the film until closer to the release date (it hits theaters on Christmas Day in limited release and in wide release Jan. 9).

So I’m not saying anything other than Oyelowo richly deserves the Oscar nomination that is surely coming, and that director Ava DuVernay, who was the first black woman to ever win best director honors at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, has done more great work.

I got back from the interview to news that a grand jury decision had been reached in Ferguson, Missouri, a site of periodic unrest since the Aug. 9 encounter that left Michael Brown dead and many in the community and beyond – far beyond – outraged.

“The notion that we are in a post-racial society is a complete fallacy,” Oyelowo, who is British, said at the conclusion of our interview (I’ll have details for you, along with more information about the Atlanta locations where “Selma” filmed, closer to the release date). “You only have to juxtapose the images (from the Selma, Alabama violence) with those we see from those coming out of Ferguson.”

Oyelowo said he prayed before taking on the role, both alone and with the Rev. Bernice King, one of Dr. King’s daughters.

“I took a gamble and said, ‘dear God, I pray that something will come through me that is not of me,'” Oyelowo said.

Rev. Bernice King issued a statement regarding the grand jury decision. It read in part:

“The progress of the revolution for social change is heavily dependent on whether we are a concerned generation, whether we are awake and on how we answer this question: Decades from now, what do we want historians to write about this moment?”

The full statement is here.