Atlanta students see “Selma” free this weekend

Ten thousand Atlanta high school students can see the film “Selma” for free over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend.

Starting January 17, Atlanta Public Schools high school students can show a student identity card or current report card at the box office of participating theaters for free tickets, while supplies last, thanks to more than $100,000 raised by Atlanta community members.

Atlanta joins 24 other cities nationwide where business leaders raised money for students to see the Oscar-nominated film about the civil rights movement, which highlights the march to Selma. More than 275,000 U.S. students will be able to see the film for free.

The film's content fits Georgia Performance Standards for Social Studies, and "Selma" has a free curriculum guide that includes lessons in a variety of subjects that align with Common Core state standards.

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax, Metro Atlanta Chamber President Hala Moddelmog and Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. led efforts to raise the money.

Carstarphen said after APS determined the film aligned with Georgia learning standards, they moved quickly so students could see the film over the weekend. King attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta and Morehouse College.

Additionally, Selma is Carstarphen’s hometown.

“Growing up there and being in the community, I’m so humbled by the outpouring of support from the Atlanta community,” she said.

Wilson said “Selma” has an energy that needs to be shared.

“I think this film is important not just for high school students to see, but for every American and people from around the world,” Wilson said. “It’s a story about courage and determination … and it’s a story where, at the center, happens to be a Morehouse graduate, a real hero.”

Several Atlanta individuals and organizations donated money for the Atlanta viewing, including Chick-fil-A, the Ford Foundation and Greenberg Traurig.

African-American business leaders in New York began the effort, raising $27,000 for students to see "Selma," according to the film's website. They launched a national campaign to find other business leaders to sponsor the campaign in other cities.

Participating Metro Atlanta theaters include Regal Atlantic Station 18, AMC Phipps Plaza, Regal Hollywood 24, Regal Perimeter Point 10, Carmike Cinemas 14, AMC Parkway Pointe 15, AMC Southlake 24 and AMC Stonecrest 16. Tickets will be granted on a first come, first served basis at the box offices. Schools can reserve 25 or more tickets for students through group sales specialists, located on the "Selma" website.