By Lauren Schuster, Staff Writer
On Wednesday evening in the Rodriguez Room of Miguel Hall, students gathered to attend a screening of the 2014 film “Selma”, which was organized by the government department.
The film chronicles the historic movement to allow black Americans to vote without restrictions that began in Selma, Alabama. This movement was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it was successful in pressuring President Lyndon B. Johnson into signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the film, the reality of the hard work and dedication that it took to be a part of the Civil Rights Movement is highlighted in a truly inspiring way. The film brings a particularly important message of nonviolence and persistence to a new generation of political activists who are just now finding their voices.
Dr. Margaret Groarke, the government professor who organized the event, had the idea to have the screening after she was informed by many of her students from previous semesters that they had not seen the film.
“I think it’s a really powerful movie and a really powerful example of political action, so I wanted students to be able to see it,” Groarke said. “I think it also does, in a subtle way, mostly towards the end, an interesting job of connecting it to the civil rights issues of the moment and the Black Lives Matter movement, so there are some parallels drawn in the closing song that I think are good for us to think about too.”
Events like this on campus help to educate the student body and give them opportunities to learn more about what exactly the Civil Rights Movement entailed. Groarke explained that the Civil Rights Movement is not something that we can disconnect ourselves from, and in fact, it has a huge impact on politics today.
“It’s a transformational event in American history, so I don’t think we can understand our country at all without looking at the Civil Rights Movement,” Groarke said. “It’s an excellent example of effective citizen action. Many of the strategies that we use today in political action are things that, for many of us, we learned from the civil rights movement.”
John Balsamo, a freshman majoring in government, gave his thoughts on the film and its importance after the screening.
“I thought it was excellent, and I think a lot of times people can forget about the history behind Selma, the civil rights movement, the voting rights movement, and things like that. I think for our generation to be able to see that on the big screen and really see what went on and the history behind it is a really enlightening experience,” said Balsamo.
Andrew Gauzza, also a government major, explained why he feels that events like this are important to have on campus.
“I think it’s very important for the educational aspect, and also the historical aspect, because if you forget history you’re destined to repeat it,” Gauzza said. “I think that it’s really good in that respect, and I think that it’s always fun to show a good movie.”
Balsamo also expressed that he feels that the movie is especially relevant today, adding, “Given this current time period that we’re in, politically and socially, it’s good to look back upon and see the struggle, how it was fought, and how it was won, so that we don’t go back to that time period. I think that the school should definitely show more movies that have a historical viewpoint to them so that we can continue to learn more.”