The historic streets of Selma, Alabama, were flooded with stars, onlookers and marchers alike over the weekend in celebration, remembrance, solidarity and probably more than a little bit of civil protest in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Of the big names to join the march, Oprah Winfrey was probably the biggest, but linking arms with her in direct honor of MLK's march was Selma director Ava DuVernay, the lead actor who played King, David Oyelowo, and Common and John Legend, who scored the film and wrote the Golden Globe-winning track "Glory."
The two musicians performed the winning song at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Legend, speaking to ABC News, said, "I feel humbled because I know how much they sacrificed. They did so at the risk of their lives. I studied the civil rights movement growing up, and I was always inspired by Dr. King and all those that worked with him."
The film, which was largely snubbed by the major awards ceremonies, shot several scenes in the iconic small town, such as the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, but it was largely filmed in Atlanta. Here is a shot from the film, tweeted by Entertainment Weekly:
Reportedly, the crowds were excited about seeing the stars, but mostly were eager to pay tribute to King and be a part of the history being made and continue the fight for civil rights. One Selma resident, Marcia McMillian Edwards, relayed those sentiments to al.com, saying, "I participated in the Bloody Sunday march. I was 11 at the time. It's been a wonderful experience to see how Selma has grown since that time, and I just wanted to be part of this today."
It seems the movie, Selma, has sparked a new invigoration for strong, moving demonstrations such as this, in a time when lots of demonstrations have been pushed much further to the opposite end of the spectrum and sometimes boil over into more hostile territory.
But there was none of that.
Birmingham, Alabama, resident Carlton Rice also spoke with al.com and said, "To be in the atmosphere today, it's something I've been looking forward to for a while. I've been here before, but it's been several years. After the movie was released, I wanted to come back and just be involved. It's exciting."
So while having huge stars walking the streets of Selma clearly helped bring national attention, they weren't the real draw. And while it was "good for the movement," as Selma resident Leon Hudson said to al.com, it was also long "overdue."
He said, "It's a historic thing. If it wasn't for these struggles, we wouldn't be where we are today. So as far as them coming here, it brings them publicity, but it's just as good for the city and the movement."
The photos are so moving and the images and expression so strong. This is my personal favorite, and I think truly embodies what everyone, stars and all, were trying to convey with their actions yesterday:
March on, indeed.
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