Glimpses of History: Junior Class Views Selma

Terence Small, Staff Writer

Over the past few weeks, schools throughout the country have organized field trips for their students to see the revered film Selma. Inspired by these schools, especially Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C., members of St. Peter’s Prep’s religion department capitalized on this learning opportunity and coordinated a field trip for members of the junior Class to view Selma. With the support of Prep’s academic administration, the religion department was able to arrange a screening of “Selma” to introduce the third quarter of the Christian Ethics Course. Instead of standing for the morning prayer on the morning of Thursday, February 5th, the entire Class of 2016 began their day at the Newport Centre AMC cinema.


While discussing the process of organizing this trip, Ms. Singleton, the chair of Prep’s religion department, explained that, “All students in Junior year read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Selma gives the students a way of seeing Dr. King’s philosophy in action, and an opportunity to view the challenges faced by African Americans in the effort to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As the Junior Class enters the third marking period, in addition to reading Dr. King’s letter, “Students will examine racism through two plays, A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park. They will also look at these issues through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching and Father Arrupe’s, Men and Women for Others, as well as the many philosophers they have studied in the First Semester,” Ms. Singleton explained.


In the wake of the events in Ferguson and New York City, it is imperative that both mature and young audiences see this film. Selma provides audiences with an opportunity to witness one of the most significant events in American history. In her film Selma, Ava DuVernay reinvigorates the inspiring true story of the turbulent three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. steered a perilous campaign to establish equal voting rights in the face of an abusive opposition. The historical marches from Selma to Montgomery were a part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and led to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, culminating one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. In the defiance of segregationist repression, Martin Luther King Jr, alongside his brothers and sisters, prompted a change that forever altered history.

Retelling one of the most important stories from the Civil Rights Movement, DuVernay is able to demonstrate the film’s worthiness both as a work of erudition and an informative resource for future generations. As fifty years have passed since the marches from Selma to Montgomery, it is essential for individuals of all ages to see this film. This critically-acclaimed film allows for students who are aware of these moments in history to make connections between the struggles of earlier generations and the many injustices that permeate today’s society. Furthermore, Selma recognizes the celebrated name of Dr. King, and the constant struggle that the American nation as a whole faces today.  Unfortunately, the many aspects of racism are prevalent in today’s society. However, the film alone allows for viewers to confront their own privileges and encourages those individuals to share their scholarship in the fight against injustice. Americans of any race, gender, ethnicity, or orientation can stand up against these evils and follow in Dr. King’s footsteps to overcome this detrimental plight. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.