Selma and the Civil Rights Movement- Alyssa Zolman

Alyssa Zolman

Dr. Miller

African American History

March 7th, 2020

Civil Movement Rights


In the United States, the month of February is dedicated to African Americans. We call this Black History Month. We use this month to honor the African Americans in their hard and long fight for their rights. Many of their victories that they have won over the years have gone unnoticed. By dedicating a whole month to Black History, we are able to highlight the problems that they have faced. To show my respect to the African Americans during Black History Month, I have viewed the film Selma. 

Selma is a historical film that shows the horrible conditions and segregation brought among the African American culture. The movie is set in the 1960s after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Although this was passed, the African American community faced hardship in trying to register to vote. This film opened up my eyes to the conditions that were brought against the African Americans during this time. A basic right that everyone should have has been taken away from them. This film shows the horrible treatment, brutality, racism, and even corrupt system that was in effect in the 1900s. 

The horrible treatment had started within seconds of the movie starting. An African American woman tries to sign up to vote, she has all the documents that are needed to sign up and she is rudely told she is not allowed to sign up. They made up a fake reason why she could not sign up and it all leads back to the fact that her skin color is black. They would change the hours that the center was open and close it right as they were walking in, they would make some hard tests that you would have to pass, and they had really slow and crappy service towards the African Americans. 

A very important character in this film was Martin Luther King Jr. He was the backbone in the protest and the fight for civil rights. He led many protests, some being small ones, and others being huge ones, bit one thing for sure, all of them had a purpose. After the first protest he led, he found himself in jail. After spending some time in jail, he was finally let out. These protests only got worse as the time went on. They turned from peaceful protest to very graphic scenes. Mobs of white people would come and just beat and kill black people for no reason. As a result of all of this, there was an increase in protests. All of this caused a lot of violence for everyone around and even made some more violence. The Whites were upset because they did not think that the African Americans should have the right to vote and give their basic rights. In the town that this film took place in, there are more African Americans than whites in the town. This was a factor that did lead the Whites to already be upset, but with that many African Americans, they should have a say in the way they want their town run, just like the Whites should also.

The marches that were displayed in Selma were so powerful yet so sad to watch. They showed all the sweat and tears that went into getting their rights. So many were hurt and afraid that they might lose their lives, but they were willing to risk it so others will get the freedom they deserve. As the film went on, more people were becoming involved in these marches. They went from only a couple of people to 1,500 people. As the marches got bigger, white people started to join in. The speeches that Martin Luther King Jr were giving were making a difference. Even though Martin Luther King Jr called off one of the largest marches they had, to a rally of over 25,000 people at the capitol steps. Everyone came together to get the African Americans the rights they deserved. 5 long, harsh  months later, they were able to get the Voters Rights Act of 1965 passed. This gave African Americans the voting rights and service that they deserved. The Whites were not allowed to give them harder tests, slower service, or any different treatment then the Whites were getting.

In the article, “Let No One Turn Us Around”, the author writes, “ In this period of power politics, nothing counts but pressure, more pressure, and still more pressure….” This is a great example of what was betrayed in this movie, you have to keep putting pressure to make something happen. Do not let anyone stop you from reaching your goals. Martin Luther King Jr did just that. He gave many speeches to people who did not think they could make a difference. He gathered them all together and set forth a movement that would forever change their lives. Even though so many people lost their lives, many people have been given a life that no one had before.  

When you look back on the History of American Americans, there is a constant pattern of hate and unfair treatment from the White People. Even though we are working hard to try to make sure everyone has a voice and is treated the same, the past will never leave us. The past is forever going to haunt us. We as a whole need to look back at the past and use it as a reminder that no one should ever have to go through that type of treatment. We need to make sure that history never repeats itself and no one deserves to be treated like that. We are all humans and should be treated with the same respect. Selma is a perfect film that truly displays what happened in the past. This film has been a huge eye opener on what went on in the past and how unfair it truly was. Going on in life, I will always think of this important question, am I treating everyone with the same type of respect that I would want to be treated with? I really hope that answer is always yes. 


DuVernay, A. (Director). (2014, December 25). Selma [Video file]. Retrieved March 6, 2021.

Marable, M., & Mullings, L. (2009). Let nobody turn us around: Voices of resistance, reform, and renewal: An African American anthology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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