With reporting by Josh Horowitz
Though the historic struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are nearly 50 years behind us, the fight for racial equality is far from over, as recent events have highlighted. Widespread protests have been sparked by the recent grand jury decisions in the cases of both Eric Garner in New York City, who died after a cop held him in a chokehold, and Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
More recently, photographs of the marches that King led to push for the right to voter registration access for African-Americans -- events that form the plot of the new MLK biopic "Selma" -- have been compared side-by-side to photographs from protests in Ferguson. The verdict? Not so different, despite nearly a half century between them.
Now, those who've seen the movie have noted a resonance with current issues, a sense that the fight is not yet over. The cast of "Selma" has spoken expansively in interviews about the similarities, even wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts to the New York City premiere of the film on December 14 and posing with their hands up.
Ava DuVernay, the director of "Selma," told MTV News, "None of it was planned, none of it we could have known, but you know race relations in this country and aggression around police and kind of all of these things that clash is really ambient in America. It's part of our atmosphere; it's always around. We don't talk about it. If 'Selma' does anything, it shows that we are on a continuum."
Common, who portrays activist James Bevel, also noted the parallels. "[DuVernay's] vision is to show that this film is present day, really," he said. "Obviously, the story took place in 1965, which is almost 50 years ago, but we know that it's happening now."
David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr., said that in both "Selma" and in today's protests, "what you're seeing is young people coming together, people of all colors."
"People are tired. People have had enough."
"Selma" hits theaters December 25.