By Kayla Merriweather
In an effort led by African-American business owners in New York, free tickets for the movie “Selma” were made available throughout the country for middle and high schoolers with a school ID. The PG-13-rated movie tells the story of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s three-month campaign to secure equal voting rights for African-Americans, particularly in Selma, Alabama.
Due to generous contributions by the country’s most prominent African-American business leaders, more than 275,000 middle and high school students were able to experience the critically acclaimed film for free at participating theaters. Free admission became available to students in New York the opening weekend of “Selma,” and all free tickets for students were sold out.
The overwhelming success of the program resulted in expansion to forty-eight cities, including the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area. Tickets were available at AMC Southpoint 17 in Durham, Regal Movies at Timberlyne 6 in Chapel Hill, Regal Crossroads IMAX 20 in Cary and Regal North Hills Stadium 14 in Raleigh. Students were able to respond to the movie via Twitter using #SelmaForStudents, and many students, as well as teachers, took to Twitter to express their enjoyment of the film and emphasize the learning experience gained from watching the film.
Despite being dubbed “One of 2014’s Most Important Films” by Forbes, winning the Golden Globe for “Best Original Song” and boasting an all-star cast, “Selma” was only nominated for two Academy Awards, spurring a public debate.
“SELMA? One of the best pics of the year. But the directing, script, all the acting, & cinematography? Meh. Nice song, though,” said @cmclymer.
Despite the ongoing debate, Academy Award President Cheryl Boone told New York Magazine’s Vulture blog that she is thrilled “Selma” is in the Best Picture race and that the Academy does not have a diversity problem.
Nonetheless, “Selma” has grossed $44.4 million as of Feb. 5, 2015, and is a powerful representation of the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for equal voting rights.