I recently watched the 2014 film Selma, which stars Michael Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, and Common. The stage is set around Selma, Alabama, Edmund Pettus bridge, and the infamous "Bloody Sunday" march that took place there in 1965.
Two characters touched me: Jimmie Lee Jackson, and James Reeb, who both lost their lives marching against voting discrimination. Jackson, a black Alabaman, who marched with his mother and grandfather, was shot by a Alabama State trooper; and Reeb, a white Bostonian minister, was beaten to death by White Supremacists. Watching and studying these two lives after watching the film, and the glaring lack of justice in their murders, was eye-opening.
Our country is just beyond a national election where the Republican candidate, Donald J Trump, took the presidency. This election has another significance in our country's voting life; the popular vote went to another party's candidate. The Democratic Party's front-woman, Hilary R Clinton gained around two million more votes than her counterpart and as she failed to take the office.
Many voters, including minorities, “feel" disenfranchised because of the electoral college, which is the major deciding factor in our democratic-republic. Demonstrations, peaceful and otherwise, sprung up across several cities and college campuses nation-wide to protest the outcome of the election results. The movement could be summed up in the hashtag, #NotMyPresident.
The similarities and differences in these two historical events are worthy to talk about. In one case, the story of Selma in 1965 represents the oppressive and even deadly approach the Caucasian people in power took to advance their master plan. Selma also reminds us of the story how the negroes of the era used "soul-force" to "tear down the walls of segregation and break the chains of discrimination." Ultimately, President Johnson signed the bill that we call the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2016, the American people who feel that the President-elect's rise to the Oval Office will, in no way, represent them fairly or appropriately, have moved to action in disgust of his campaign statements, ideals, and many previous business associations.
The differences between the two groups here is also significant. In 2016, the law says there is no voting discrimination in this country, and the protestors have done their civic duty at the polls. Second, the outcome of the vote was not what moved the protestors of the Civil Rights movement to activism; it was the illegal and unlawful lack of representation they endured for generations. The civility and pacifism of the major events of the minority citizens in the 1950s and 1960s in this country is much different than any looting, rioting, and vandalism of the 21st century.
Regardless of the similarities and differences, one thing is clear: America has been built on democracy through voting. When groups of people feel as though their vote doesn’t count, things can get ugly. Constitutionally, American people often move to assemble and speak their rights to change the law of the land. Although we all have a long distance to march to reach the mountaintop, I am glad for the privilege and right to speak my vote through national, state, and local elections. May we never forget what it took for the right to be made right in the USA.