Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art |


Considering Michael Clarke Duncan: Big Black Man within a Nonsociopoliticohistorical Context (Editorial with Poem) by Aberjhani

Photo of Michael Clark Duncan by Ethan Miller for WireImage.

Since his emergence during the 1980s and 1990s as a master of horror and suspense, author Stephen King has enjoyed popularity among a racially diverse reading audience. His popularity among African Africans likely ticked up a notch when his novel The Green Mile was made into a movie in 1999 and the late Michael Clarke Duncan brilliantly brought King’s character, John Coffey, to awe-inspiring life.

Duncan, who died September 3, 2012, at the age of 54 from complications following a heart attack suffered in July, received an Academy Award nomination for the role. Moreover, he actually won the Saturn Award, Black Reel Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics’ Choice Award, and Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for his performance.

The accolades that rained upon Duncan and the fact that he earned himself a spot among Hollywood A-listers did not prevent some critics from accusing the Chicago-born actor of promoting a negative racial stereotype with the role.  Instead of the morally superior close-to-angelic being that King created and Duncan represented so impeccably, they saw a witless aberration with slave-like speech and mannerisms, someone too unaware of his sociopolitical status to hate the white people who so clearly hated him.

Big Black Man Within a Nonsociopolicohistorical Context

 In an interview with PopMatters film editor Cynthia Fuchs, Duncan, who in real life stood 6’5” and weighed in at 300-plus pounds, shared the following: “The film is about this: you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s the main thing that people do with John Coffey. And me too.”

In many ways, whether considered negative or positive, the more dominant images of African-African men in mainstream media and parallel outlets are manufactured utilizing some form of guerrilla decontextualization. The millionaire entertainers, superstar athletes, demonized criminals, and hyper-sexualized players often have little other than color in common with the average striving student, husband, son, brother, incarcerated loved one, or friend who considers himself African American.

For the full article with the poem by Abejhani please click the link:

Considering Michael Clarke Duncan: Editorial with Poem – National African-American Art |

Notebook on Black History Month 2012 (part 4): The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975










Poster for The Black Power Mixtape featuring Dr. Angela Davis.

After opening in U.S. theatres September 9, 2011, and closing November 6, 2011, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 managed a total d
omestic gross of only $268,813 before making its debut on Public Broadcast Stations (PBS) over the February 10-12, 2012,Black History Month weekend.  

Although the documentary film made its PBS debut as stated, it did so in the state of Georgia initially on channels accessible only to those who subscribe to high definition cable services. It later aired on more accessible channels at 1 a.m., 3 a.m., and 6 a.m. respectively. Consequently, many who may have wanted to see it did not and those still wishing to see the film would do well to check local broadcast schedules before its final PBS showing on February 29, or, invest in the DVD.

That a film such as The Help has grossed almost $170 million during its theatre run, and is nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Motion Picture (broadcasting February 26) while The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 has been all but ignored by mainstream commentators possibly says a great deal about the tendency for denial when it comes to dealing with the realities of race in America.

 “Mixtape” is a very appropriate word to include in the title of Goran Hugo Olsson’s film because it includes a rich mixture of cultural voices. They speak across different dividing lines such as those of haves and have-nots, youth and maturity, black and white, national and global, and the past and the present. Each adds intensely to the film’s overall power to provide an expanded perspective on African Americans’ struggle for racial equality during the 1960s and 1970s.

To read the complete post of this article by Aberjhani please click this linkNotebook on Black History Month 2012 (part 4): The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – National African-American Art |