Island youth react to ‘Selma’

Selma — Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoe

Despite the snowy conditions last Saturday, Feb. 14, many high school students ventured out to take advantage of the free screening of Selma at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. The complimentary screening was part of a national effort to provide youth with the opportunity to witness firsthand the film about a moment of pivotal historical significance.

The MVFC, in collaboration with the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative, screened the film. The event began with Isabella Hazell El-Deiry and Dukes County commissioner and NAACP member Gretchen Tucker Underwood paying tribute to Island women who participated in the civil rights movement: Polly Murphy, Nancy Hodgson Whiting, Peg Lilienthal, Virginia Mazer, and Nancy Smith.

Following the screening, The Times asked students for their reactions to the film. We asked, What element of the film had the most impact on you? How did you feel about the film? Did you already know the history of the march before seeing the film?

“I thought Selma was inspirational, and showed a side of the civil rights movement that I wouldn’t have ever seen or known about before this movie. Something that stuck out for me was the intense brutality and violence against the peaceful protestors [men, women and children]. The police were not above killing people young and old, and would even seek them out if they escaped the violence that followed after the march.” —Sarah Dawson, age 18, Oak Bluffs

“The fact that people of color were in a constant state of fear [was most memorable]. Also too, that when you learn about the civil rights movement, it’s [typically] from an outside view, and I could never really grasp the situation until I saw it in the movie.” —Avery Hazell, age 18, Edgartown

“It was a good movie! it was eye-opening that they were actually that brutal back then.” —Altair Oliveira, age 17, Vineyard Haven

Hallie MacCormack is a work-study intern with The Times. She will be reporting occasionally throughout the semester.