By Isai Efuru
What gives a story its wings are our individual contributions. Every time you witness the power of someone’s story, their joy, sorrow and victory becomes a part of yours. The movie “Selma” is a narrative rich with passion and determination. It chronicles one of the most impactful marches for equality in our nation’s history. It is a story that still soars, along with our cries for justice.
I took my daughter Judah with me to the Charlotte movie premiere, and hoped that her usual analysis of plots and dialogue would be set aside so that she could fully digest this very significant narrative. As the film began, she became immediately engaged as she took in the scene where four young girls died in a church bombing. Her eyes became soft and pained, and as I wept silently, she quietly settled into her seat and sighed as the movie went on to reveal the hard truth of segregation and racism.
We watched without words and cringed as marchers were assaulted, and as state police – in a restaurant of terrified witnesses – murdered Jimmy Lee Jackson shortly after a night march. Here and there, I observed her as she leaned closer to take in the move for justice fully. I wondered if she saw herself in the narrative, and if she felt the weight of justice on her small shoulders. As the movie came to an end, she sat up in her seat and held my eyes for a brief moment. I nodded, and understood. In those brief hours. Judah “saw” Selma.
Judah saw the angst, the losses and the regrets. She saw the preparation for future days of freedom, and she saw the value of character, education and unity. Through watching her take in the move, I “saw” Selma anew. I gained a fresh perspective on my responsibility as a mother, teacher, pastor and agent for social justice.
The rapper Common declared in his Golden Globes speech that “Selma is now.” Common’s call to awareness and action requires us all to see the legacy of civil rights in America and to do our part to ensure that it soars higher now than ever. The narratives of our ancestors, bullied, broken, bullet-ridden, and bloodied, are our gate passes to demanding freedom for all. The grace and power of our faith carried our heroes to victory; it will keep us as it kept Dr. King and the marchers. Seeing our responsibility in the continuation of the freedom narrative must never end. “See” Selma, see freedom for every marginalized soul, and see God give us the courage and strength to lift the world to where it needs to be.
Isai Efuru is a 45 year-old writer and pastor who currently ministers in Charlotte, NC. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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