MLK Jr. remembered at film showing
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012 17:03
As the credits rolled, students were left speechless by the amazing and revering story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jésus Nunez Torres, staff advisor of African / Latino-Hispanic / Asian / Native American Network, stood at the front of the room and awaited a response from someone in the crowd. “Don’t be shy,” he said. “Really? No one?” Finally, someone perked up.
“I don’t know if something like that could be done today,” said a member of the audience in response to a questionnaire that has been handed out.
Boycott, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was shown on the big screen on Thursday, February 16 in Kennedy 112. The movie centers around the life of 25-year-old reverend, King Jr. The film is a feature, as opposed to a documentary, and shows the story of King Jr., played by Jeffery Wright, as he organizes the 1953 bus boycott in Montgomery.
The movie began with a depiction of the famous scene of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. The scene showed signs on a public bus that directed “Blacks” to the back and “Whites” to the front. Parks was shown after a long day at work, sitting in the middle of the bus. A white man approached her and asked her to get up so he could sit there. She answered with a simple “no.” This sparked a reaction from both the black and white bus passengers. Parks refused to get up, even after the bus driver stopped the bus to tell her to move. Eventually, the police got involved and arrested her for not moving out of her seat.
After the movie, one audience member commented on this scene, “I really want to know what that scene was like. What really happened? Was she polite? Did she cuss them out?”
Following this opening scene, the film shifts to a young King Jr. as he sits in on a community meeting to organize a bus boycott. Members of the black Community in Montgomery, Alabama decide to boycott the buses for just one day, to see what would happen. They also decide that they need a leader. King Jr., then a young reverend from Atlanta, is nominated. Following a powerful speech at a local church the organizers believe King Jr. is right for the job.
A boycott that was meant to last only one day then lasted for 375 days. And during that time it is said that not one African American rode a bus in Montgomery. People relied on walking and carpooling as transportation. Cars were said to make roughly 130 trips in one day to get people around. During that time King Jr., Ralph Abernathy (played by Terrence Howard) and other members of the Montgomery Improvement Association negotiated with the City officials to “make segregation more humane,” a first step in getting equal rights for African Americans.
“I think it’s a great movie to realize how helpful Martin Luther King was,” said junior Trae Alston-Swan after the film, “Before this I hadn’t even heard of a Martin Luther King movie. If I did, it was a documentary.”
Interim Director of Multicultural Affairs Carleen Roy-Butler organized the film’s screening. “All the student leaders do a training on Martin Luther King Day,” she said, “and I decided as part of our training for both the ALANA E-Board and the Reach Out Center service directors to show this film to them on [Martin Luther King Day] as a way to remember it. I just thought it was a really entertaining way, it’s not a documentary, of getting the students to think about Dr. King.”
The film was shown to the Assumption Community as a way to celebrate Black History Month. “Jésus and I had been talking about trying to pick a film and show it during Black History Month,” said Roy-Butler. “Traditionally we haven’t done anything for Black History Month.” She described the student leaders’ enthusiasm after she showed the film to them. “After the film they liked it so much they were the ones who said ‘this is the one you should show to people.’”
Roy-Butler likes the movie so much she has seen it several times. “I think Jeffery Wright becomes Martin Luther King Jr,” she said.