Sometimes, I like to imagine that somewhere out there in the world, the members of the Academy are sobbing into their hands over the PR nightmare that is snubbing Selma at the Oscars in 2015. And, to be honest, it's things like this that make it so incredible to me that Selma would be snubbed by such a prestigious award ceremony devoted to celebrating the best in film — overall or on an acting basis. On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Selma stars Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, and more marched in Alabama to commemorate one of the worst days in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, proving yet again that Selma isn't a film that was made just to entertain the masses. It was made because it was a film whose themes and story is deeply felt and deeply believed in by the people involved.
Sunday marked the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King Jr. led a peaceful parade of people through Selma, Alabama in order to fight for voting rights. The crowd that marched with him numbered in the thousands. Not only did Winfrey and Oyelowo participate in the march, but they were also joined by Common, John Legend and director Ava DuVernay. In addition, on Monday, two free screenings of Selma are being held in the town.
According to ABC, before the march, Winfrey had this to say: "I'm so excited that once again I get to march across the bridge not as portraying Annie Lou Cooper but as standing in the shoes and on the shoulders of everyone who came before us. Every single person who was on the bridge is a hero." Meanwhile, Legend took to Twitter in order to express what a life-changing experience it was for him to participate in something like that, after retweeting images from the day.
Just as important as the fact that a film like Selma was made is the fact that it's such a multilayered experience. Yes, you can watch the movie, and, yes, you can learn the history, but you can also participate in that history. If the Selma cast's march inspires even one person to join in the march next year, if Selma the film inspires even one person to do more research on Martin Luther King Jr. whether it's on his designated day or not, if even one more moviegoer is inspired to speak out about the unfairness of people of color being neglected at the Oscars this year — then this film will be one of the most important films to have come out in 2014.
And for that kind of inspiration to come from the hands of actors who didn't just play a role, but took the extra step to show that they absorbed the lessons, is something pretty amazing.