In a New York Times article — At 'Selma' Viewings, Lessons for a New Generation — Infor CEO Charles Phillips discusses his role in organizing free screenings of the 1965 voting rights movie for students across the U.S.
Here are excerpts:
The movie, which revisits the 1965 voting rights marches in Alabama and Martin Luther King Jr.'s part in them, is turning theaters into classrooms.
... Many black business leaders agreed, and worked with Paramount Pictures, which made the film, to provide free tickets to seventh, eighth and ninth graders all over the country. Several cities had expanded the program to students in other grades.
Charles Phillips, chief executive of Infor, a software company, said the project to give tickets to students began after he and several friends saw the movie and started exchanging emails about how important it was for young people to see it.
"This was a transformative time in the black community and in the country," he said in a phone interview on Friday. "And most of our kids didn't know about it, so we asked ourselves, what can we do to recapture our heroes, especially since the story the film tells is more relevant than ever?"
He said his group originally raised money to buy 27,000 tickets in New York City, which were snapped up in two days. Eventually, they raised $2 million, enough for tickets for 275,000 students to see the film in 27 cities.
… Patt Franklin was waiting outside the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, hoping to get into a free screening of the film.
But she too said she hoped young people would see the movie en masse. "The only way we're going to change is to know our history," she said.