A few years ago, I jetted down to Atlanta to visit a friend. Somewhere between the chicken-and-waffles outings and stalking Lenox Mall, we decided to venture out to the historic Martin Luther King Jr. site. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'd never been a big MLK acolyte. (I'd read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" in high school and that had shaken me.) But I was game for an IRL history lesson -- only I got so much more when we sauntered up the steps of 501 Auburn Ave., to the house where a young Martin was born and raised.
That neatly tended home, like any other on a tree-lined Georgia street, made the Civil Rights icon human for me. More than the annual grade-school book report I mindlessly compiled in construction paper every January, and more still than the rousing speech that had faded to a hum. By the time I got an invitation to screen "Selma" early last November, I was ready for a cinematic treatment that would focus on the mission -- and the man. And it delivered.
Here's why seeing this film is so necessary, despite what your guy Oscar says.
We Get To See Martin As A Man, Not A Martyr
David Oyelowo's King is brave, courageous and ... flawed. He cracks jokes with his boys, spends time with his kids and fights with his wife. "Selma," under the skilled direction of Ava DuVernay, doesn't hide from this and the iconic leader is no less heroic for it.
The Ferguson And Eric Garner Protests Will Make So Much More Sense
Even if you're not one of those people who complained in recent months about protestors clogging up traffic or causing a disturbance, watching King and his circle organize marches from Selma in 1965, agitating for a human right as basic as the right to vote will force you to connect the dots (50 years worth) between these events.
Because Oscar Is Full Of B-O-L-O-G-N-A Sometimes
Just because they basically got it wrong when it comes to nominations for "Selma," doesn't mean you have to.
David Oyelowo's Brilliant Performance: He Becomes Martin Luther King Jr. In 'Selma'...
And The Resemblance Is Stunning
Yes, the British actor in the lead role reportedly packed on 30 lbs. for the project but the transformation feels far more than skin deep. The real King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are seen here on March 30, 1965, leading a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. It's just one of a few scenes expertly recreated onscreen.
Junior High Students Can See It For Free!
If you're in 7th, 8th or 9th grade and live in select cities, you can catch "Selma" for free this weekend with your student ID or report card. Paramount has already paid for your ticket, so no excuses.
Every Hero Needs His/Her Own Theme Music, And Common And John Legend's "Glory" Is Yours
The soaring, percussion-heavy number from the Golden Globe-winning duo comes on as the credits roll and, trust me, you will need this track to steady you after DuVernay's tour de force film fades to black.
He's The Reason You Have The Day Off
I'm just saying. Catching "Selma," a record of MLK's tireless work, is the ultimate 'thank you.'