Roeper reviews ‘Selma’: History lesson moves gracefully from brutality to tenderness

SHARE Roeper reviews ‘Selma’: History lesson moves gracefully from brutality to tenderness
SHARE Roeper reviews ‘Selma’: History lesson moves gracefully from brutality to tenderness

BY RICHARD ROEPER

All she wants to do is register to vote. She is an American citizen, and it is her right.

The woman is Annie Lee Cooper, who is black. The registrar is white.

The place is Selma, Alabama, in the mid-1960s.

It’s clear this isn’t the first time the woman has tried this. The registrar practically snarls at her and begins asking her questions.

“How many county judges in Alabama?”

“Sixty-seven,” Ms. Cooper answers.

“Name them,” says the registrar.

This is one of the early scenes in Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” Annie Lee Cooper is played by Oprah Winfrey (it’s a strong performance), and there is something excellent and beautiful in seeing arguably the most popular and certainly one of the most powerful women in the world reminding us of how far we’ve come in the last half-century.

And yet the marches and protests from Ferguson to Chicago to New York tell us how far we still have to go. The making of “Selma” couldn’t have been more prescient.

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