Rev. Bernice King calls "Selma" an incredible movie that's not quite accurate

Rev. Bernice King says "Selma" is an incredible, moving film that she hopes will spark conversation and progress, but that it doesn't get everything 100% right.

Bernice King

"There are documentaries and then there's Hollywood. This obviously was a Hollywood movie, and you don't expect Hollywood to bring all of the facts to life," she said. "What you expect it to do is bring to the story to life. I think they did an incredible job of bringing the story of Selma to life."

In particular, she said the movie did not portray the relationship between her parents, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, entirely accurately. She explains in this video clip:


She had mostly praise for the film, a good bit of which was filmed in metro Atlanta. (Family members of the late civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, on the other hand, have complained that his character was "grossly mischaracterized.")

King said there were many people deeply involved in the Selma-to-Montgomery march movement whose contributions could not be fully incorporated into the movie, but that "Selma" accomplished the broader goal of highlighting the movement's achievements. She discusses that in this video clip:


King spoke to journalists Thursday morning at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, where she is CEO, to highlight upcoming events surrounding the annual holiday honoring in her father's memory.

The annual Salute to Greatness gala will honor former President Bill Clinton and commemorative events the day of the holiday will feature an appearance by actor David Oyelowo, who portrays her father in the movie. He and "Selma" director Ava DuVernay are up for Golden Globes awards. The movie itself is up for best picture and the theme song "Glory" is up for best song.

King said she wasn't sure if she might attend the Academy Awards (the movie has generated considerable Oscar buzz) but for now, appreciates DuVernay's efforts.

"My hat's off to Ava," King said, describing early versions of the script as "insulting." She explains why in this video clip:


During the Thursday news conference King highlighted not only upcoming events but work the King Center has done in engaging the community in Ferguson, Mo. following unrest sparked by the shooting death of Michael Brown and the decision by the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

"We met with gangs in St. Louis," she said. "They literally told us they were planning to burn up five different areas. We were able, I believe, with other organizations, I think we did a pretty good job of making sure things were more contained. The majority of (protestors) are conducting themselves peacefully and nonviolently."

A reporter asked her to comment on the pockets of violence and arson that erupted in some areas.

"Even in my father’s movement there was still violence," King said. "He was the personification of nonviolence he could not stop the violence. God himself cannot stop the violence. When we went into Ferguson, I don’t know if people remember when things started, there was not a whole lot of conversation about the word 'nonviolence.' Once we came in and did what we did, it helped to nudge people in the direction of peace."

More work is planned.

"One thing we have not done well is trump our own horn," King said. "We are busy in the field and we are seeing lives transformed. We are doing the work. We would appreciate the media sharing some of our stories."

About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for