As the release of Selma draws closer, and the nation sees the eerie parallels between the film depicting the historical protests in Alabama and what is going on in present-day America, Oprah Winfrey said there are important lessons to be learned from the film.
“I think life is always there to teach, enlighten, and open you up to the greater possibilities of what can be done if you’re willing to be awake and see it. So what’s exciting to me is that people are awake,” Winfrey told the Grio. “And if it took Eric Garner and it took Michael Brown and other instances to do that, then that’s where we are in our evolvement as human beings.”
“Even if we didn’t know about a Ferguson, or an Eric Garner or a Michael Brown … they were going on,” Winfrey, an actress and producer for Selma, continued. “The fact that they may have now become newsworthy or made national or international news doesn’t mean there haven’t been nameless Michael Browns or Eric Garners before.”
Winfrey went on to describe how much people can learn from the film and from the protests of the past in general.
“I really think that this film can teach people a lot, because what this film says is it’s been done,” the former talk show host said. “It was done. Y’all are not the first to do it … the first to have an idea … the first to want to protest … the first to be upset.”
She stressed the importance of not forgetting the progress made by the protesters that came before this generation.
“We didn’t even have the right as citizens to vote in this country, and because of that you had Martin Luther King as a leader joining with his band of brothers with disciplined, rigorous, peaceful protests, and they had a goal and intention in mind,” she said. “You just can’t march and not know what you’re marching for.”
“We couldn’t have predicted what would happen in terms of what’s going on, race relations-wise,” lead actor David Oyelowo, who plays King, told the Associated Press. “We finished shooting in early July and by early August Michael Brown had been murdered and now we’re in the middle of the Eric Garner situation. I just think it shows. … We do not live in a post-racial America.”
The film showcases the historic march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery for voting rights.