Bio-drama directed by Ava DuVernay which chronicles the turbulent three month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) 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 Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.
Our Favorite Quotes:'One struggle ends just to go right to the next, and the next. If you think of it that way, it's a hard road. But I don't think of it that way. I think of these efforts as one effort. And that one effort is for our life.' - (Selma) Click To Tweet 'Our lives are not fully lived if we're not willing to die for those we love and for what we believe.'- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Selma) Click To Tweet 'When will we be free? Soon, and very soon. Because no lie can live forever.' - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Selma) Click To Tweet
Martin Luther King Jr.: Selma it is.
James Bevel: This here is it. Selma’s the place. A lot of groundwork has already been laid by the people here. And they’re ready.
Martin Luther King Jr.: One struggle ends just to go right to the next, and the next. If you think of it that way, it’s a hard road. But I don’t think of it that way. I think of these efforts as one effort. And that one effort is for our life. Our life as a community. Our life as a nation. For our lives.
Martin Luther King Jr.: We can do this. We must do this! We see children become victims of one of the most vicious crimes ever perpetrated against humanity within the walls of their own church. They are sainted now. They are the sainted ones in this quest for freedom. And they speak to us still. They say to us, to all of us, all colors and creeds, that we must do this.
Martin Luther King Jr.: As long as I am unable to exercise my constitutional right to vote, I do not have command of my own life. I cannot determine my own destiny for it is determined for me by people who would rather see me suffer than succeed. Those that have gone before us say, “No more!” No more! That means protest! That means march! That means disturb the peace! That means jail! That means risk! And that is hard! We will not wait any longer. Give us the vote! We’re not asking. We’re demanding. Give us the vote!
Martin Luther King Jr.: The way our organization works is straightforward. We negotiate. We demonstrate. We resist. And on our best days, our adversary helps the matter by making a mistake.
Martin Luther King Jr.: I’m tired, Ralphy. Tiring of this.
Ralph Abernathy: Eyes on the prize, Martin.
Martin Luther King Jr.: Yeah, but what is the prize, friend? We fight to have a seat at whatever table we want. And how does it help a black man to be able to eat at a lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough to buy the burger? Or worse yet, can’t even read the menu, because there was no N**** school where he’s from. What is that? Is that equality?
Ralph Abernathy: Amen.
Martin Luther King Jr.: And what about in our minds? Equality in the black psyche. And I look at these men, beaten and broken down for generations. Deciding to demand more? What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?
Martin Luther King Jr.: A man stands up, only to be struck down. And what happens to the people he led? What are we doing, Ralphy?
Ralph Abernathy: We take it piece by piece. Like we been doing. We build the path as we can. Rock by rock.
Martin Luther King Jr.: This cell is probably bugged.
Ralph Abernathy: [laughs] It probably is.
Martin Luther King Jr.: Oh, Lord. They’re going to ruin me so they can ruin this movement. They are.
Ralph Abernathy: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father doth feed them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
Martin Luther King Jr.: Matthew 6, verse 27.
Ralph Abernathy: Alright.
Martin Luther King Jr.: Yes, sir.
Martin Luther King Jr.: There are no words to soothe you, Mr. Lee. There are no words. But I can tell you one thing for certain. God was the first to cry. He was the first to cry for your boy.
Martin Luther King Jr.: Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? We know a state trooper acting under the orders of George Wallace pointed the gun and pulled the trigger. But how many other fingers were on that trigger? Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every white lawman who abuses the law to terrorize. Every white politician who feeds on prejudice and hatred. Every white preacher who preaches the Bible and stays silent before his white congregation. Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every N**** man and woman who stands by without joining this fight as their brothers and sisters are humiliated, brutalized, and ripped from this earth!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: When I heard President Kennedy had been shot and killed. And when I heard, just yesterday, that Malcolm X, who stood in this very church just three weeks ago, had been shot and killed, I turned to my wife Coretta, and said the same thing I often say when one of our leaders is struck down, “Our lives are not fully lived if we’re not willing to die for those we love and for what we believe.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: We need your involvement here, Mr. President. We deserve your help as citizens of this country. Citizens under attack.
President Lyndon B. Johnson: Now, you listen to me. You listen to me. You’re an activist. I’m a politician. You got one big issue. I got a hundred and one.
Rev. Hosea Williams: Non-violence is not passive. It’s actually very strong.
Rev. Hosea Williams: May I have a word with the Major?
Police Officer: There’s no word to be had.
Archbishop Iakovos: [to King] You called and we came, my friend. You are not alone, my friend.
James Reeb: My name is James Reeb. I’ve come from Boston.
Reporter: Tell me, why have you traveled here, Mr. Reeb?
James Reeb: I heard about the attack of innocent people who just want their rights, and I couldn’t just stand by when Dr. King put out that call to clergy. I couldn’t.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: The President doesn’t want us to march today. The courts don’t want us to march. But we must march. We must stand up. We must make a massive demonstration of our moral certainty. I’m so glad we’re here together today. I thank you for standing up. For we shall be victorious in our quest. We shall cross the finish line hand in hand. For we shall overcome.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: My dearest Corrie, at a time when I need you, I cannot call you. And I have done this to myself, to us. At this late hour, my thoughts are of you and all you have sacrificed for this struggle. So many have sacrificed. So many have been lost. I wonder how many must we lose. I pray for discernment and guidance as we journey on. I pray, too, that I can justify the faith you once had in me. I, too, often feel that heavy fog you spoke of, Corrie. Only you and our family clears the haze. Love, Martin.
John Lewis: Next day, I found myself patched up and sitting in a church. I could barely hold my head up, but I needed to be there. You were going to be speaking. And I needed to hear you. And I was feeling down, but you got up there. You remember that day at all?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: I don’t think we remember it the same way. What did I say, John?
John Lewis: I’m about to tell you right now. And I hope you hear me. You said that we would triumph. That we would triumph because there could be no other way. And you know what else you said? You said, “Fear not. We’ve come too far to turn back now.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson: Are you trying to s**t me, George Wallace? Are you trying to f*** over your President?
Gov. George Wallace: Mr. President…
President Lyndon B. Johnson: We shouldn’t even be thinking about 1965. We should be thinking about 1985. You and I’ll be both dead and gone by then. In 1985, what do you want looking back? You want people remembering you saying, “Wait,” or, “I can’t,” or, “It’s too hard?”
Gov. George Wallace: Well, I don’t right care what they think, and you shouldn’t neither.
President Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let history put me in the same place as the likes of you.
President Lyndon B. Johnson: I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy. At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. The issue for equal rights for the American N**** is that issue. For this issue, many of them were brutally assaulted. There is no N**** problem. There is no Southern problem. There is only an American problem.
President Lyndon B. Johnson: The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or color. To correct the denial of this fundamental right, this Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate these illegal barriers. The bill will strike down voting restrictions in all elections, federal, state, and local. And we shall do this. We shall overcome.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: I’m no different than anybody else. I want to live long and be happy. But I’ll not be focusing on what I want today. I’m focused on what God wants. We’re here for a reason, through many, many storms. But, today, the sun is shining, and I’m about to stand in its warmth alongside a lot of freedom-loving people who worked hard to get us here. I may not be with them for all the sunny days to come, but as long as there is light ahead for them, it’s worth it to me.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: We heard them say we’d never make it here. We heard them say they’d stop us, if it was the last thing they did. We heard them say we don’t deserve to be here. But today, we stand as Americans. We are here, and we ain’t going to let nobody turn us around.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: This mighty march, which will be counted as one of the greatest demonstrations of protest and progress, ends here in the Capitol of Alabama for a vital purpose. We have not fought only for the right to sit where we please, and go to school where we please. We do not only strive here today to vote as we please. But with our commitment, we give birth each day to a new energy that is stronger than our strongest opposition. And we embrace this new energy so boldly, embody it so fervently, that its reflection illuminates a great darkness.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Our society has distorted who we are. From slavery, to the Reconstruction, to the precipice at which we now stand. We have seen powerful white men rule the world while offering poor white men a vicious lie as placation. And when the poor white man’s children wail with a hunger that cannot be satisfied, he feeds them that same vicious lie. A lie whispering to them that regardless of their lot in life, they can at least be triumphant in the knowledge that their whiteness makes them superior to blackness. But we know the truth. We know the truth, and we will go forward to that truth, to freedom!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: We will not be stopped. We will march for our rights. We will march to demand treatment as full citizens. We will march until the viciousness and the darkness gives way to the light of righteousness. No man, no myth, no malaise will stop this movement. We forbid it. For we know that it is this darkness that murders the best in us and the best of us.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: You may ask, when will we be free of this darkness? I say to you today, my brothers and sisters. Despite the pain, despite the tears, our freedom will soon be upon us. For truth crushed to earth will rise again. When will we be free? Soon, and very soon. Because you shall reap what you sow. When will we be free? Soon, and very soon. Because no lie can live forever. When will we be free? Soon, and very soon. Because, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on. Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.”
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