Selma: a Cinematic Depiction of The Fight for Civil Rights

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 557 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 557|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Historical Context and Opening Scenes
  4. The Struggle for Voting Rights
  5. Key Events and Marches
  6. Political Maneuvering and Leadership
  7. Final March and Legislative Victory
  8. Conclusion


The 2014 film Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay, provides a compelling portrayal of a pivotal moment in the American Civil Rights Movement. Centered around the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the movie captures the intense struggle for racial equality and voting rights. This essay aims to summarize the film while highlighting its historical significance, narrative structure, and the emotional gravity it carries.

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Body Paragraph

Historical Context and Opening Scenes

The film opens with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., played by David Oyelowo, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. This accomplishment juxtaposes sharply with the brutal reality of racial segregation and violence in the Southern United States. The narrative swiftly moves to the tragic bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four young African American girls are killed. This scene sets the stage for the deep-seated racial tensions and the urgent need for change.

The Struggle for Voting Rights

As the story unfolds, the focus shifts to Selma, Alabama, where African Americans face systemic disenfranchisement despite the legal right to vote. King, along with members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), decides to mount a campaign in Selma to highlight and combat this injustice. The film meticulously portrays the planning and strategizing that went into the campaign, as well as the resistance they faced from local authorities and the general populace.

Key Events and Marches

The film's dramatic core is built around the three marches from Selma to Montgomery. The first march, known as "Bloody Sunday," is depicted with harrowing realism. Peaceful protestors are brutally attacked by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the scenes are both shocking and emotionally charged. The national outrage following this event increases support for the movement. A second march is attempted but called off by King to avoid further violence, demonstrating his strategic and moral considerations.

Political Maneuvering and Leadership

DuVernay's film also delves into the political intricacies of the Civil Rights Movement. It shows the interactions between King and President Lyndon B. Johnson, played by Tom Wilkinson. Initially, Johnson is portrayed as reluctant to push for comprehensive voting rights legislation due to other political pressures. However, the persistence of the activists and the mounting national outcry eventually compel him to act. The portrayal of these dynamics underscores the complex interplay between grassroots activism and federal policymaking.

Final March and Legislative Victory

The film culminates in the successful third march from Selma to Montgomery, which is depicted as a triumphant and unifying moment. The marchers, protected by U.S. Army troops, symbolize the power of collective action and the federal government’s eventual support for civil rights. The narrative concludes with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark achievement that marks a significant victory for the Civil Rights Movement.

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Selma is much more than a historical drama; it is a powerful reminder of the relentless fight for justice and equality. The film’s meticulous attention to historical detail, combined with its emotional depth, makes it a poignant representation of the Civil Rights Movement. By focusing on a specific yet crucial chapter in the struggle for voting rights, Selma highlights the enduring importance of activism and the impact it can have on societal change. Ultimately, the film serves as both a tribute to those who fought for civil rights and a call to action for future generations.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Selma: A Cinematic Depiction of the Fight for Civil Rights. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Selma: A Cinematic Depiction of the Fight for Civil Rights.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Selma: A Cinematic Depiction of the Fight for Civil Rights. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Selma: A Cinematic Depiction of the Fight for Civil Rights [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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