Does history repeat itself?

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It is not a question of past or present, this is now, right here in America
This is not a question of past or present, this is now, right here in America

Those who have been to cinema obviously know that the movie Selma chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.

Oprah Winfrey believes Selma can serve as a learning tool to the thousands of Americans that are protesting the deaths of Brown, Garner and others. She says: “I really think that this film can teach people a lot, because what this film says is it’s been done. 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. 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. You just can’t march and not know what you’re marching for.”

According to different spokespersons in internet it seems that most of them think that this isn’t a standstill in history. Selma is right now. This movement is here. It’s cyclical. This isn’t going away.

Militarized police force, what you saw a month ago, two months ago — it wasn’t 1960. That was 2014. Again, this just goes to show you, this is not going away. History is repeating itself. Whether police are brutalizing protesters in 1950s Alabama or doing the same to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. I agree with them, this film speaks that racial tensions are still here, in America.

There might be different causes to make films like Selma. For example when Selma”s director Ava DuVernay decided to direct Selma, she had two charges at hand: to humanize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and make an interesting civil rights film. “History is beautiful when it’s taught in a vibrant way and you learn it and you take it in and you contextualize it for yourself,” she has said. “But so often, cinema treats history kind of like medicine.”

Watch as Ava opens up about her approach to the film.

Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin attended the premiere of Selma in New York City  and spoke out about the Ferguson protests happening across the country. The “Natural Woman” singer thinks that parallels between Selma and Ferguson are indisputable and believes that Martin Luther King Jr.inspired film will serve as a wake-up call. She said: “I think that it’s gonna bring a higher level of consciousness to everything that’s happening, particularly between the movie and Ferguson and all of the different happenings that we’ve had lately involving all of the young African American men. There is certainly a correlation between the two”. “I think most importantly the timing… what was happening way back then, and what is still happening now. I think the timing is a very important factor and that the film is going to underscore that and other things as well.”

I think that life is always there to teach, enlighten and open you up to the greater possibilities of what can be done, we only need to be willing to see it. I guess we all can bring parallels from our home countries’ history and we can see many similar patterns from past. All stories should be told to the present and future generations.

Edited by Alexis Macklin

3 Comments on “Does history repeat itself?”

  1. Insightful to hear from the “Queen of soul” -Aretha Franklin on this. Mark Twain has a quote that says history does not repeat itself but it rhymes. Perhaps Selma/Ferguson is an example of this being true.

  2. Interesting point that this is a cyclical issue… I sure hope not though, surely we should be making progress. There are so many similarities though, between Selma and Ferguson and so many race cases in between. It sounds like Ava DuVernay was the perfect director for this film; her words are very insightful.

  3. Hi, I liked that you paid attention to some historical debates. Touching the history is always painful but it is useful sometimes to go back and find out what was really going on. Your blog looks from several aspects and makes us to go through them.

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