The movie Selma has been making headlines for several of its actors and the director, Ava DuVernay, getting snubbed for Oscar nominations despite the film getting a Best Picture nomination, but the film has earned something much more valuable; the reward of teaching kids the importance of the Selma marches.

Even more kids are going to be able to see the film for free thanks to the free screening initiative developed in New York City. Now, Charlotte, Houston, Stockton, and Champaign-Urbana, IL have now been added to the roster of locations throughout the US showing the film to students for free. Even better, Philadelphia has extended their run to include 3000 more tickets since the demand is even larger than expected.

Here’s more on this program, as well as several statements from business leaders:

Following the lead of a team of African-American business leaders in New York and across the U.S., funds have been established in these cities that will allow students to see “SELMA” for free at participating theaters while supplies last. To date, more than 300,000 middle and high school students across the U.S. will experience the critically acclaimed film for free.

In Philadelphia, the overwhelming demand for tickets has led organizers to expand the program and add 3,000 more tickets.

“Watching the community rally around ‘Selma’ has been a beautiful experience and this is truly a movement we will build on for years,” said Ed Lewis, founder of Essence Magazine, a contributor to the New York City program.

The local business leaders who are leading the efforts in the new cities are:

· Dr. William Alleyne, President, Carolina Pulmonary Physicians, and Sybil Faulcon, Talent Acquisition/Professional (Gov’t) Xerox Business Services, in Charlotte

“We are honored to be part of this unprecedented effort by members of the African-American business community to educate our nation’s children about this pivotal moment in American history,” said Dr. Alleyne.

· Anthony W. Hall, III, President, Rio Vista Partners, L.P., in Houston

“The movie ‘Selma’ offers a rich and vibrant opportunity to bring to life for young students in Houston the struggles and opportunities that Black people in America have been faced with historically,” said Hall. “It hopefully provides them context and, ideally, a sense of pride, recognition and purpose. The movie can connect them to an important time in the civil rights movement and perhaps serve as a framework for their own civic engagement, awareness and activism.”

· Dr. Robert Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer, The California Endowment, in Stockton, CA

“The California Endowment is thrilled to support the civic leadership of this program’s leaders to assure that young people from underserved communities can enjoy and learn from this landmark film,” said Ross.

· Byron Clark, Co-Chair, NEBC, and Aaron O. Ammons, President, NEBC, in Champaign-Urbana, IL

“The North End Breakfast Club is very happy to have the support of Paramount Pictures. As we continue to engage our community through the use of historically informative films such as ‘Selma,’ we know these films will have a profound impact on the thought process of the individuals who attend the viewings and post discussions,” said Ammons. “As President, and on behalf of the members of NEBC, I want to say thank you for your progressive thinking and courageous support for this initiative in Champaign, Illinois and across the Country.”

These business leaders are following the lead of those in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Central Florida/Orlando, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Montgomery, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, San Francisco, Sarasota, FL, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and Westchester.

Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, which is distributing “SELMA,” is coordinating the programs with participating theaters in the U.S. For a list of participating theaters in select cities offering free admission to students during this program and for information on group sales, visit

Middle and high school students who present a current student ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater will receive free admission while tickets last. Tickets in Champaign-Urbana, IL will be available beginning January 31st at participating theaters.

The nationwide efforts are inspired by the success of the program in New York City, in which 27 African-American business leaders created a fund for 27,000 of the city’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to see the film for free. Due to the overwhelming demand, the New York City effort sold out in the very first weekend and was expanded to 75,000 tickets.

Students have to show a student ID or report card to view the film for free. To learn more about the program, visit You can also participate in the online conversation about the program with the hashtag #SelmaForStudents.

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Photo credit: Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films.

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By Monique