Selma’s legacy will be defined by the action it inspires, not the awards it garners.
I’m a person who produces creative works, and for my efforts, I’ve received numerous awards.
Most of the celebrations attributed to me come as a surprise, because like most true artists, I’m focused on bringing a vision to life, not garnering awards and celebrity. Though being acknowledged for your creativity is a heart-warming feeling, its nothing compared to the natural high you experience when your creativity inspires emotions and actions.
The goal of art, many believe, is to inspire the person consuming it. Ms. Ava Duvernay, who directed Selma, told me she wasn’t hoping the film made people feel anything in particular, just that they “felt something.”
I wrote an article recently about the impact Selma had on viewers who took the vote for granted and sat on the sidelines in recent elections. In my post, I recommended politicos and activists consider staging themselves outside of the theaters showing Selma and engage movie-goers with voter registration cards.
Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, whose job is to oversee fair and free elections, read the article and it inspired her to act. She notified me and her followers via Twitter that she would be attending a theater in University City to watch Selma and would have voter registration cards with her.
I was thrilled to know my creative work inspired a consumer to take action, because like Ms. Duvernay, one of my biggest fears is to make “disposable” content. It’s my opinion that Selma is a successful piece of creative work that has earned a spot in history not only because of the raw emotion it’s able to generate from those who watch it, but its ability to inspire action.
Of course, not everyone sees the world the way I do. A writer at Forbes fears that if the legacy of Selma becomes shaped by its Oscar-season controversy, it will affect the artistic opportunities afforded to African-American female directors. I’m not concerned that the legacy of Selma will be impacted by the bias of mainstream America, but even more so, the public can ensure that it won’t be.
The public can truly honor the brilliance of Selma by making it their duty to register to vote, show up at the polls, and engage in all areas of civic life, including serving as jurors. There’s nothing the public can do about Selma being snubbed by the Oscars, but it has total control over how Selma becomes reality imitating creativity; and that, not an award, will be its legacy.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Mila Jacob Stetser/Flickr