Before 'Selma' There Was 'Selma, Lord, Selma'
Photo Credit: S & A

Before 'Selma' There Was 'Selma, Lord, Selma'

nullBefore "12

Years A Slave," there was "Solomon Northrup’s Odyssey." Before "Red Tails" there was "The Tuskegee Airman." So it shouldn’t be a surprise that before Ava DuVernay’s "Selma" hits the screen on Christmas Day, there was also another film

about that momentous event in Alabama in 1965, which changed the course of the Civil

Rights Movement and America as well.

I’m talking

about "Selma, Lord, Selma," an ABC TV movie which aired on the network in January 1999, produced by Walt Disney Television, and directed by the great African-American

filmmaker Charles Burnett.

Since there

is no one way to tell a story, both films take entirely different approaches, with DuVarnay’s film, judging from its trailer, going for a near epic, broader

canvas, with a huge cast of well known actors; while "Selma, Lord, Selma," was a

TV movie – and a Chales Burnett film especially – smaller in scale, more

intimate and personal.

It tells the

story of the Selma to Montgomery march, from the viewpoint of an 11-year-old girl Sheyann Webb (Jurnee Smollett), who is inspired to do something to affect change, when she hears Martin Luther King Jr (Clifton Powell) speak at her church in Selma.

Along with

her friend, Rachel West (Stephanie Zandra Peyton), they both get involved with

the Movement and the march, despite their parents’ increasing worry and


The film,

which was based on the book, "Selma, Lord, Selma: Girlhood Memories of the

Civil Rights Days," written by Webb and West, recounting their experiences during

that period, is a powerful film that has sadly been forgotten, but hopefully

all the interest in DuVernay’s film lead to its rediscovery.

It is

available on DVD, and might be on Netflix or other VOD outlets. If not now, I wouldn’t

be surprised if it does start showing up soon, if only to capitalize on DuVernay’s film.

But you should definitely search for it. It’s worth it.

Here are

some clips from the film: