Selma is still going strong, and I couldn’t be happier, especially since the free student screenings have finally come to Birmingham (as well as Trenton, NJ)! I was waiting on this to happen, since Birmingham is one of the epicenters of the civil rights movement. I am surprised Mayor Bell, who always has something to say about something happening “for the good of the city,” didn’t have a quote in the press release.

Enough snark: Here’s the news.




HOLLYWOOD, CA (January 23, 2015) – Birmingham, San Diego and Trenton, NJ, have joined the massive national campaign by African-American business leaders to raise funds for free student admission to the Academy Award®-nominated and Golden Globe-winning film “SELMA,” expanding the unprecedented movement to a total of 32 locations nationwide.

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.

The Selma for Students program has grown steadily since its launch in New York City on January 8th. To date, African-American business leaders in 32 locations across the U.S. have raised funds for free admission for middle and high school students to see “SELMA.” More than 300,000 students nationwide will experience the critically acclaimed film for free.

Due to the program’s popularity and the ongoing efforts of the organizers, student tickets in Boston, Detroit, New York and Northern New Jersey are sold out. Philadelphia expanded its program and added 3,000 more tickets to meet the overwhelming demand, while the business leaders in Northern New Jersey raised additional funds to send 1,000 students in Trenton to see the film.

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

  • Roy S. Johnson, Director of Sports, Alabama Media Group; Staci Brown Brooks, Manager of Special Projects, Alabama Media Group; and Terri Gardner in Birmingham

“Having only moved to Birmingham in recent months, it was a particular honor to work with and meet long-time Alabamians who were eager to support Selma for Students in recognition of this state’s historic role in the civil rights movement. For us, this effort was truly close to home,” said Johnson.

  • Lee Wills-Irvine, Senior Manager, Human Resources, Qualcomm, in San Diego

“Qualcomm recognizes the historical importance and current relevance of the movie ‘Selma.’ So we are excited to partner with companies like Sony Electronics, community based organizations like the San Diego African-America Museum of Fine Arts, and local Executive Leadership Council Members to provide this opportunity to students in San Diego,” said Wills-Irvine. “Thank you to the Qualcomm leadership team, local businesses and community leaders who have so generously supported such a meaningful movement.”

  • David R. Jones, President and CEO, CastleOak Securities, L.P., in Trenton, NJ

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

The initative that has gained ground began with its initial success in New York City, which involved the combined efforts of 27 African-American business leaders.  Students have to show a report card or current student ID to gain admittance. Learn about which theaters are participating at  Trenton tickets will be available Jan. 26. Discuss the initiative with the hashtag #SelmaForStudents.

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That’s not the only news out there about Selma: Google is also allowing the 500 students and staff from New York City’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School to see the film for free as well. Here’s more on this initiative:

The sponsorship marks the first time since the inception of the nationwide Selma for Students program that a company has provided the funds for an entire school to see the film. Nearly 500 students and staff at the STEM high school in Brooklyn will experience the film due to the contributions of Google and the support of software company Infor and Paramount Pictures.

“As the Founding Principal of P-TECH and as a proud Morehouse College graduate, I am thrilled that our most famous alum, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is at the center of the film ‘Selma,’ and I commend P-TECH teacher Zakiyyah Ali for her efforts in helping to make the ‘Selma’ experience a reality,” said Rashid Ferrod Davis, Founding Principal (P-TECH). “We are grateful for the generosity of Google, Paramount Pictures and the others who are making it possible for our entire student population, faculty and staff to see ‘Selma.’ Our Brooklyn students are pioneering a movement and the collective experience of seeing the film will be powerful and empowering for all of us.”

“It is imperative for me to keep alive the stories about how African-Americans have dealt with struggle and resistance to injustice. It is equally important for my students to see that activism is selfless work. As our students live in an age of activism, ‘SELMA’ and the digital technology used to make the film provide them with a visual blueprint on how generational cooperation works for the good of all people. At one point in time, our pioneers could only record their histories through griots with limited reach. Today, technology allows these heroic stories to be told in ways in which the reach is nearly endless,” said P-TECH history teacher Zakiyyah Ali, whose desire to bring “SELMA” to her students led to the partnership with Google.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is a new type of school (grades 9 through 14) that brings together the best elements of high school, college (New York City College of Technology) and the professional world (IBM). P-TECH enables students to begin their college and professional lives more quickly and with more support than the typical school-to-work pathway. Graduates of P-TECH have the opportunity to earn an associate in applied science degree and leave the school with the skills and knowledge they need in order to continue their studies or step seamlessly into competitive jobs in the Information Technology (IT) industry.

President Obama, Secretary Duncan and other dignitaries visited P-TECH in Fall 2013 in praise of its curriculum and model, which has been replicated. P-TECH offers college-level courses in math and science and offers students a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree in computer systems or electromechanical engineering.

The Selma for Students program has grown steadily since its launch in New York City on January 8th. To date, African-American business leaders in 32 locations across the U.S. have raised funds for free admission for middle and high school students to see “SELMA.” More than 300,000 students nationwide will experience the critically acclaimed film for free.

I’m so excited about how many students are able to see this film and learn about America’s past and how to better affect the future. What do you think about these programs? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Left to right: Tessa Thompson plays Diane Nash and Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King in SELMA, from Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films.

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By Monique