A momentous MLK Day

This week’s First Monday came to us at a seminal time in history. Recent cases such as those of Ferguson and Eric Gardner show the ongoing victimization of young black men under our nation’s law enforcement, serving to remind us of the vast progress that must still be made beyond the stagnated momentum of the Civil Rights Movement.

Dylan Nelson, professor of film and new media studies at Colorado College, has produced the documentary, “Soundtrack for a Revolution,” which incorporates the freedom songs of slaves and Civil Right’s protestors with the voices of more recent artists to paint a musical masterpiece of historical and contemporary significance.

Images of Civil Rights leaders are combined with pop musicians like John Legend, who together bring to mind the relevance of civil rights in today’s modern world.

This documentary, which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals, is brought to Colorado College as the new film “Selma” brings a similar political and social discourse to Oscar buzz. Selma, produced by Oprah, tells a profound Civil Rights story to a contemporary audience that has a lot to learn about the historical inequalities of our justice system and social strata.

In the movie, we see the inspirational struggle of Martin Luther King, whose wife Caretta is responsible for dedicating the upcoming national MLK day to her husband. Oprah plays Nurse Annie Lee Cooper, who was beaten during protests and repeatedly denied the right to vote. As the bloody protests that occurred in Selma, Alabama are depicted on the big screen, director Ava DuVernay does an incredible job of visually describing the movement’s dedication to non-violent strategy in the face of police brutality as well as MLK’s persistent dialogue with President Johnson against political pressure to disengage from civil rights.

The significance of movies such as “Soundtrack for a Revolution” and “Selma” is being embraced by the nation in new ways. One private equity firm in Austin, Texas (Vista Equity Partners) is even offering one thousand tickets for students to see Selma in theaters. CEO Robert Smith said, “It is of the utmost importance to expose our young people to the courage, compassion and integrity that is brought to life in the film Selma.” It illuminates a period of American history that is very relevant today.”  Students from Austin will share responses to the film using the hashtag, #SelmaForStudents.

Hopefully this is the first of many attempts by corporations, schools, and political organizations to raise awareness about civil rights and point out today’s relevance to these issues. This week, with Professor Nelson’s words on “Soundtrack for a Revolution” in mind, remember the courageous history of Civil Rights that has marked us as a nation and consider the progress that you can be a part of as we bring light to the injustices that so many Americans still face.

Ruby Samuels

Ruby Samuels

Ruby Samuels

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