When celebrating Black History Month, we are obligated to recall the events that took place in Selma, Alabama over fifty-two years ago. The 54-mile, civilian-held march from Selma, Alabama to the capitol in Montgomery was a crucial event during the Civil Rights Movement, and today, it serves as an important reminder to one of the most pivotal periods in American history.
In 1965, racial tensions were at an all-time high, as the Civil Rights Movement was garnering massive amounts of attention all over the deep south. Unfortunately, Selma, Alabama was like any other southern town at the time; many citizens actively worked to preserve their traditionally segregated communities even after the federal government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to desegregate those very areas. Yet, Selma became a unique forefront in the Civil Rights Movement after violence and civilian unrest continued to erupt over African American suffrage. Martin Luther King Jr. and other notable figures walked with an enormous crowd of citizens from Selma to Montgomery on an unprecedented 5-day journey that would eventually lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 2014, Hollywood’s film adaptation of this historical march, rightfully titled Selma, reached the quaint streets of Covington, GA. As Hollywood of the South, Covington transformed into an eerily similar depiction of 1965 Alabama which ultimately helped capture the time period’s true essence. Scenes were filmed in and around the Covington Square, such as the Town House Café on Washington Street, Newton County’s historic Courthouse was transformed in to Hotel Albert, Lee Street, Conyers Street, Brown Street, Emory Street, Ivy Street, Gregory Street, and many more. The historic Courthouse is open to the public Monday-Friday and visitors can catch a glimpse of the Hotel Albert’s clerk desk which was used as a prop for the Newton County Courthouse’s film renovation.
Overall, Selma, starring David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey, is a masterpiece that illustrates the Civil Rights Movement from the lenses of important figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Annie Lee Cooper. Let us celebrate this historical month in remembrance of the march from Selma to Montgomery while also taking pride in Covington’s featuring role in the film.