Selma: Where Do We Go From Here?
During one of the many gut-wrenching scenes in Selma, Dr. King comforts a grieving grandfather whose grandson has just been murdered by the hands of white police officers. Dr. King says, "I have no words." This is a powerful statement coming from a man whose legacy hinges on words--words that we read, recite, and remember for their beauty, their brilliance, their boldness.
That's how I feel after watching Selma: I have no words. I braced myself for this movie. I knew it was going to be hard to watch. I brought my Kleenex. But as I sat in that dark theater today, I cried. I cringed. I clapped. When it was over, the entire theater clapped--people of all races. We couldn't help ourselves. Selma ripped my heart out, but it left me hanging on to hope. Hope that we can do better.
It will take me a while to process this movie--to turn this swirl of emotion and thought into words, but what I can find are the words to tell you --to implore you--to go see this movie. I don't care what color you are. I don't care how old you are. I don't care if you watched the events of the Civil Rights Movement unfold on your TV set. I don't care if you lived it. EVERYONE needs to see this movie. And we need to look at it through the lens of NOW.
As I watched this movie, I wished that I could sit in that theater and smugly think, "Oh, things are much better now. Look how far we've come." But the fact that I couldn't made my heart hurt even more. I couldn't help but think about Michael Brown. About Ferguson. About Eric Garner. About Tamir Rice. How could I not?
Honestly, I think that's why some people will shy away from this movie. They don't want to feel guilty. They don't want to be reminded of all THAT. But I think this attitude is part of our problem. We need to face our own deeply rooted prejudices. We need to stew in the discomfort that they bring. It's the only way to a better world.
At the end of the movie, there is a beautiful song called "Yesterday was Hard on All of Us." Please listen:
I love that this song asks the important question: "Where do we go from here?" This is not just about history. This is about NOW. We ALL have work to do.
Eugene Cho, a Seattle pastor that I follow on social media, posted this tonight on Facebook, and it perfectly captures the cry of my heart:
My prayer is that we won't reduce MLK to just a day of quotes on social media. I pray that we will embrace his message of justice, of equality, of peace every single day. I pray that we will see people--all people--through the lens of love.