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January 20, 2015
No matter how familiar you are with the various facets of the Civil Rights Movement, you will walk away having learned something new from the recently released film, Selma. Selma is an exceptional and relevant film that raises critical issues that inform us not only about our past but also about our present. Its themes parallel current news stories and continue to keep us present in the current conversation on race. Everybody should see and then discuss this film!
Click here for a printable version of the study guide.
1. What are your reactions to the film? Do you think it was a good depiction of the Civil Rights Movement based on your own experiences or on historical accounts that have been presented in the media and in history books?
2. How can the lessons from the Civil Rights Movement be applied to current conversations about racial profiling and police brutality?
3. Do you feel the #BlackLivesMatter protests are a new chapter in the Civil Rights Movement?
4. Did the events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown and the chokehold death of Eric Garner create a ‘Selma moment’ akin to the national outrage after Bloody Sunday?
5. What are some of the similarities/differences between Selma and Ferguson?
6. Were the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leaders and other young adult activists helpful or harmful regarding the march on Selma?
7. What lessons can younger and older activists learn from each other about fighting for justice?
8. When protesting and working for peace seems to be in vain, do you ever feel like calling it quits? What motivates you to keep pressing on?
9. When non-violent solutions seem not to work, should Christians sometimes adapt a more societal view of resolving violence with violence? What helps you to remain non-violent in a violent world?
10. During their second march which has since become known as Turnaround Tuesday, as the marchers came face-to-face with the police, Dr. King Jr. kneeled down to pray and after a few minutes turned around and headed back in the direction of Selma. What role does prayer play in the non-violent movement?
11. Following the coverage of Bloody Sunday, many were moved by the images and depiction of the brutality that was inflicted on the marchers. What role does media coverage play in forwarding or setting back a movement?
12. President Lyndon B. Johnson was portrayed as being hesitant to sign the voting rights act because there were other issues that were suggested to be more important. Did you think the portrayal was fair? What lessons can be learned from Selma regarding the need to be persistent in getting political leaders to speak and act on particular issues?
13. What sort of legislation can be put in place for the #BlackLivesMatter movement?
14. Many (both black and white, Christians and non-Christians, pastors and lay people, young and old) answered the ‘call’ to come to Selma. How does cross-cultural unity help to frame a movement?
15. Dr. King challenged America with these words, “If you believe all are created equal, come to Selma, join us, join our march against injustice and inhumanity.” How are you answering the ‘call’ to participate in movements that do not directly impact you?