Black People : 'Selma' Ignores the Radical Grassroots Politics of the Civil Rights Movement

RAPTOR

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Sep 12, 2009
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"Hollywood loves the great man narrative, but the civil rights movement was never about top-down leadership "

By Jesse McCarthy
(exerpt)
In it’s rush to enshrine and reconfirm the charismatic male leadership of the movement, this film fails
to honor the great female fountainheads of that movement, Septima Clark and Ella Baker, and women
like Fannie Lou Hamer in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, whose work on voter-
registration and literacy, through the Citizenship Schools, were the true incubators of activism and
irrigators of the Civil Rights movement. At a time when men still unthinkingly expected the women to
take notes as the men talked politics at meetings, Baker, the outspoken guiding spirit of SNCC, proved
an indispensable leader, instrumental at every level in the success of Freedom Summer.

What it comes down to is that Selma expresses at every turn the political perspective of the black
middle class, which prefers to perceive the civil rights struggle through the lens of individual dignity
and negotiation, as opposed to collective urgency and direct action. There is nothing inherently wrong
with this, both currents were, and indeed remain, important drivers of change. But it explains the
film’s contemptuous handling of any whiff of radical politics. The groundbreaking work of SNCC, for
example, is dismissed as hot-headed petulance. An utterly bizarre performance by Nigel Thatch of
Malcolm X presents him simultaneously as rakish and emasculated, a potential threat to a good
woman, without any trace of a threat to white supremacy; while the film redacts Stokely Carmichael
from the record entirely. Lowndes County, Alabama comes up several times, but those who don’t
know their movement history will not know he was there, or recognize it as the birthplace of the Black
Panther party.

Read more: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120685/selma-lessons-ava-duvernays-film
 
"Hollywood loves the great man narrative, but the civil rights movement was never about top-down leadership "

By Jesse McCarthy
(exerpt)
In it’s rush to enshrine and reconfirm the charismatic male leadership of the movement, this film fails
to honor the great female fountainheads of that movement, Septima Clark and Ella Baker, and women
like Fannie Lou Hamer in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, whose work on voter-
registration and literacy, through the Citizenship Schools, were the true incubators of activism and
irrigators of the Civil Rights movement. At a time when men still unthinkingly expected the women to
take notes as the men talked politics at meetings, Baker, the outspoken guiding spirit of SNCC, proved
an indispensable leader, instrumental at every level in the success of Freedom Summer.

What it comes down to is that Selma expresses at every turn the political perspective of the black
middle class, which prefers to perceive the civil rights struggle through the lens of individual dignity
and negotiation, as opposed to collective urgency and direct action. There is nothing inherently wrong
with this, both currents were, and indeed remain, important drivers of change. But it explains the
film’s contemptuous handling of any whiff of radical politics. The groundbreaking work of SNCC, for
example, is dismissed as hot-headed petulance. An utterly bizarre performance by Nigel Thatch of
Malcolm X presents him simultaneously as rakish and emasculated, a potential threat to a good
woman, without any trace of a threat to white supremacy; while the film redacts Stokely Carmichael
from the record entirely. Lowndes County, Alabama comes up several times, but those who don’t
know their movement history will not know he was there, or recognize it as the birthplace of the Black
Panther party.

Read more: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120685/selma-lessons-ava-duvernays-film
When I saw that Oprah was in the movie, I figured that it was garbage.

Thanks for the warning.

Peace!
 

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