Selma movie Ava DuVernay

First, let me say this: GO SEE THE SELMA MOVIE TODAY. Bring everyone you know. Do not hesitate. Do not wait until next weekend. You can thank me later. Better yet, you can thank Ava DuVernay. Repeatedly.

I say this because my family and I were privileged to see Selma on Christmas Day here in Atlanta, one of the select cities included in the film’s early showings. Indeed, it was the perfect ending to a beautiful holiday. The movie was intelligent. Powerfully told. Beautifully shot. Stunning in its clarity and relevance. And deeply moving, not just because it chronicles our history—nee, America’s history—but also because it is a dope clarion call for the more righteous and fearless among us to keep pushing, keep agitating, keep demanding justice.

Simply put: Selma is some kind of wonderful.

I expected nothing less. I was there on set when the director, the insanely talented Ava DuVernay, seemingly rolled back the hands of time to 1965, turning the hallowed halls of the Georgia State Capitol into an intense, eerie space in which President Lyndon B. Johnson was stating the case for a measured, meaningful response to one of the most devastating moments in Civil Rights history: Bloody Sunday. It wasn’t until Ava yelled, “cut” that the air loosened and the halls filled again with color and light: this was the place where just 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., fought for Ava’s right to… be… and here she was, running thangs. Making magic.

It was quite the sight to see, indeed. I had my Mari with me that day and she was blown away watching Ava shot-calling on the set. At one point, my girlpie took a survey of all the dozens of people working on the set and asked in earnest: “Mommy, Miss Ava is the boss of all these people?”

“Yes,” I smiled.

“All of them, for real?”

“All of them,” I assured. “She is the one with the vision. Everyone here is working to see that her vision turns into a film.”

Sitting next to Mari watching the Selma movie on Christmas Day made that moment all the more special for my African American daughter, who got to witness a Black woman practicing her art, being a boss and creating a film that allowed my child to touch history—to see how far we’ve come, how hard we fought to be here, and how much further we need to go.

I am forever grateful to Ava, the writer and Sundance-winning director of the delicious independent film Middle Of Nowhere, for that.

While there are some jarringly brutal scenes of Black folks and protestors being beaten and murdered as they worked to secure the vote for African Americans, the film is most certainly appropriate for children—a sound history lesson indeed. What’s more, Paramount has partnered with BazanED, a platform that pairs content producers with K-12 educators to help them extend teachings on Selma into the classroom. Paramount’s providing complimentary curriculum materials for middle and high school that meet Common Core State Standards and providing historical background on Selma and Voting Rights in America, supported with 11 interdisciplinary lesson plans in history, English language arts, applied mathematics, art and geography. There are also additional materials available, including video and photographic elements as well as printed resources to support the lessons. One to grow on.

This is to say that seeing the Selma movie this weekend isn’t just about going to the theater for kicks. It’s about understanding a legacy. It’s about getting hyped about that moment in time and using it to move forward. It’s about a celebration of a sister whose vision inspires little girls and this grown woman beyond measure.

Go see Selma. You will not regret it.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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