This weekend’s premiere of Ava DuVernay’s masterpiece, Selma, was an opportunity for the cast and crew to demonstrate their solidarity with protesters that were fueling their energy and passion to help bring much needed awareness to the tragic consequences of racial profiling and police brutality.
DuVernay and her main stars, including David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo,Tessa Thompson, Lorraine Toussaint, and Wendall Pierce, occupied the steps of The New York Public Library on Sunday, donning “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts. Those were the hauntingly last words, Eric Garner uttered before he was silenced by the fatal chokehold at the hands of Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who escaped being indicted for the death of the 43-year-old father of four.
The irony of promoting and celebrating a film about civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. who spent most of his life fighting for equal rights at a time when African-Americans were being unfairly persecuted isn’t lost on the movie’s director.
The current racial climate is a tragic indication that not much has changed and it serves as a barometer for what the release of Selma could potentially evoke.
DuVernay, who was recently lauded for her directorial efforts by making history as the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe expressed her views regarding the issues pummeling the black community and the nation at large, “Is that not incredible that we’re sitting here, talking about this film, and there are marches going on around right now about the same issues? It’s stunning. I think it really just shows that we’re on a continuum. This thing continues to happen. There’s something that we do in this country where we just gloss over this stuff. We react to it, and then we’re on to the next. And it’s just about time that we actually stop and dig into it.”
DuVernay also praised the efforts of protesters who have taken to the streets to demand justice for the men and boys who were unfairly and brutally struck down in their prime by members of law enforcement. “I think King would be out there with people right now”. “I imagine him as old man out there with his hat and his coat, marching with people. I believe he’d be right out there, because he was a man of the people, and it’s tragic that he’s not here to see this thing.”