A film depicting an important piece of civil rights history hits mid-state theaters on Friday.
Selma focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King's campaign for equal voting rights. The film centers on a 1965 march from Selma, AL, to Montgomery, AL, in the face of violent opposition.
Thursday night, more than 400 people were invited to a special screening of the film at the Hollywood 27. The private showing was sponsored by the Bone McAllester Norton law firm.
"For 14 years we have sponsored an MLK breakfast," Charles W. Bone said. "When we saw this film was coming, we wanted to be a part of this."
Bone was a freshman at Vanderbilt University in 1965. He recognized that people under the age of 50 didn't live through this particular time in history.
"That's what I would hope, that it would be an inspiration to a younger generation," Bone said.
Local lawmakers, church officials and community leaders attended the advance screening.
"Some folks reading history books think the Voting Rights Act occurred don't understand how long it took just to get across that bridge, how many attempts there were and how many lives were lost," Tennessee Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) said. "And really the growth that has occurred in this country as we look forward to more peaceful solutions to civil discourse."
"It challenges us to come together even more today, standing on their shoulders to do the exact same thing they did, dealing with injustices in our culture right now," said W. Antonio Sinkfield with Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"I came out here tonight because this film will have an impact on this generation today," Bishop Jerry Maynard said. "I do believe tremendous strides have been made. However, there are yet things that exist today that need to be worked on lest we forget where we came from. This film gives us some understanding."
After the march, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It's considered one of the most significant victories of the civil rights movement.
Selma opens in several mid-state theaters on Friday.
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