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

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

By Jesse McCarthy
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.

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Personally I think the civil rights movement is overrated! So are its "civil rights icons". I lived through it and remember it very well. I was and still am amazed at people who seem to think that getting your butt whipped by the police, is something to be proud of! Of course I've been a disciple of Malcolm X since the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963. FYI Rosa Parks was not the first to refuse to give up her seat on a bus, 15 year old Claudette Colvin was!
After reading most of what's been said here, including your posts, there isn't very much left to analyze or comment on, or add too, when it comes to explaining how this movement was hijacked. Most here see how it was done in their own way, and every bodies point makes sense, and you went even further. I always said that beast was unpredictable, and he's good at using our own against us. Besides that, you'd be surprised how many black folks think this movie was for our betterment. I heard black people saying after this movie how surprised they were to learn the sacrifices whites made for us, etc... I mean, what can you say to people who choose not to see the bigger picture, and not recognize that white hate is still alive and well. I try not to, but I get a little tired sometimes. Look how this movement was hi-jacked? How can we as a people still be this sleep and let this happen?

Now they took off the Carl Nelson Show from WOL, and replaced him with a young girl hosting a show called "Sister Speak"...that might be her nickname. I don't know if you were familiar with the Carl Nelson Show, but he was about the only real good black talk show host left. He had guest on like Dick Gregory, France Cress Welsing, Claude Anderson, Umar Johnson, Nelly Fuller, and many more. However, they're still playing an hour of his repeats from his old 3 hour show, until they phase him out all the way I guest. But then again, I heard they cut his hours and put him on 6:00am. Anyway the "Sister Speak" show is hit or miss, and they tend to talk about the symptons...back to the same ole same ole. Then she tends to have this mindset that there's no attempt by white people to exterminate black people. She's playing a word game on the true definition of exterminate, ignoring the fact that black people are leading all bad categories, including death of course. I don't know if she's playing games or what, but you don't replace Carl Nelson with this.

I didn't mean to get off all into the Carl Nelson Show, but I did want to get that out there for anybody else reading this thread. Nonetheless, I know the white man is still behind most of this mess, but perhaps I should add on that this role some of us play in helping assist him in destroy ourselves needs to be addressed at some point too, hopefully in a civil manner.

And before Carl Nelson there was Bro Eric St. James, who was on WOL/WOLB from March 1988-Feb. 2000.
The movie is Good enough, we need more of this type of movies. Telling our story.
Sure its not totally complete but that's what books and documentaries are for - a more complete story can be had their.

To get a "complete story" you have to go back alot further than the civil rights movement! :) Like around the time when Afrikans (blacks) were the only people in the world. Afrikan history is the missing pages of world history. ;)


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