It seems only fitting that as we get ready to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day five more cities are added to the movement to allow students to see the highly praised and moving film SELMA. This massive national campaign is lead by African American business leaders to raise funds for free student admission to the Golden Globe-winning film expanding the unprecedented movement to a total of 13 cities, nationwide.
Following the lead of a team of African-American business leaders in New York and across the U.S., funds have been established in Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C. African-American business leaders in these cities – along with organizers in Boston, Nashville, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sarasota, FL and Westchester – have created programs that will allow students in these locations to see “SELMA” for free at participating theaters.
The efforts are inspired by the success of the program in New York City, in which 27 African-American business leaders created a fund for 27,000 of the city’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to see the film for free. Due to the overwhelming demand, the New York City effort sold out in the very first weekend and was expanded to 75,000 tickets.
Several of those involved spoke out about the importance of this movement saying:
“The chance to share a film, which has so poignantly captured a pivotal moment in our history, has struck a deep chord within the African-American business community and resonated so profoundly across the country that a simple idea has become a national movement,” said Tony Coles, former CEO, Onyx Pharmaceuticals. “We are gratified that generous donors across the country see the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our youth.”
Frederick O. Terrell, Vice Chairman of Credit Suisse added:
“I think the overwhelming response to our ‘SELMA’ initiative across the country has been a reminder to all of us of the power of a simple idea and the collective power of communities. Buying tickets for our children to see this wonderful film is an opportunity for greater awareness and education.”
Henry Louis Gates, professor of African American Studies at Harvard stated:
“This initiative is unprecedented in African-American history. Never before has a group of black leaders donated the funds to enable students across the country to view a film created by a black director for free, this is a testament to Ava DuVernay and the cast of ‘SELMA,’ and to the leaders of this initiative, Charles Phillips and Bill Lewis.”
In Chicago, the leaders have developed a program for students of After School Matters, a nonprofit organization that provides out-of-school programming opportunities for Chicago teens. Teens that participate in After School Matters will be sent an invitation to receive a complimentary ticket to see “SELMA” at one of the participating theaters. The students will provide their student ID and the After School Matters ticket at participating Chicago theaters. The After School Matters program in Chicago will begin on Friday, January 16th.
In the other cities, 7th, 8th and 9th grade students who present a current student ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater will receive free admission while tickets last.
Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, which is distributing “SELMA,” is coordinating the programs with participating theaters in the U.S. For a list of participating theaters in select cities offering free admission to students during this program and for information on group sales, visit www.SelmaMovie.com/
Business leaders in additional cities are currently organizing commitments from community organizations. Those cities will be announced Friday, January 16th. To help get the word out about the program, tweet using the hashtag #SelmaForStudents.
SELMA is the story of a movement. The film 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 (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s “SELMA” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.
This is a film that everyone needs to see, not only does it tell an important historical story that everyone should know but it also starts a conversation, one that we should all be having. In light of the recent highly publicized cases of violence and police brutality the film highlights a movement that worked and pushed us in the right direction. With hundreds of rallies and protests going on around the country, one can only hope the film motivates and helps push people to speak up and stand up for what is right in a peaceful yet meaningful way. SELMA is in theatres everywhere now.