Commentary

Common and John Legend are glorious in ‘Selma’

stockvault-piano-keys96355One day, when the glory comes
It will be ours, it will be ours
Oh, one day, when the war is won
We will be sure, we will be here sure
Oh, glory, glory
Oh, glory, glory

Music, songs, videos and lyrics that emanate from the Black experience continues to awaken the consciousness of millions of people around the world. The recent collaboration between iconic artists Common and John Legend on theme song for the movie “Selma” is a prime example.

As the two Chicago natives demonstrated, our culture is rich with historical and contemporary accomplishments of artists who have been able to emotionally connect art with the long struggle for Black freedom, justice and equality.

Of course, the Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala. March was part of that struggle. In a few weeks, we will witness the 50th anniversary of that march, which was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was the dramatic event that led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The release of the docudrama film “Selma” could not have been scheduled at a better time.

“Selma” was directed by the talented and gifted Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Christian Colson, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. Oprah Winfrey she be applauded for using her considerable financial resources to support such an important undertaking.

Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends
Sins that go against our skin become blessings
The movement is a rhythm to us
Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtaposition in us
Justice for all just ain’t specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin’ us
True and living living in us, resistance is us
That’s why Rosa sat on the bus
That’s why we walked through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, “Stay down” and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

Although the movie was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture, it actually won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, “Glory,” produced by Common and John Legend. They stood together on the stage at the Golden Globe Awards to receive that much-deserved tribute. It’s another example of Hip-hop and pop culture combining to make a real difference on the global stage.

“Glory” is appropriately named. There was a certain transcendent glory that occurred in the final aftermath of March 3, 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday,” atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Thanks to television, the entire world witnessed Hosea Williams, John Lewis and other peaceful marchers being mercilessly beaten by law enforcement officials for exercising their constitutional rights.

Both the movie and theme song capture that bravery of that era.

“Glory” just won the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Original Song. In his acceptance remarks, Common said, “Thank you Ava DuVernay, for making the first feature film about Dr. King so beautifully….. We knew the spirit and intention of ‘Selma,’ and of what Dr. King is about. That’s love, that’s justice, that’s freedom. For all people. We created ‘Glory’ in that spirit.”

Now the war is not over
Victory isn’t won
And we’ll fight on to the finish
Then when it’s all done
We’ll cry glory, oh glory
We’ll cry glory, oh glory

Selma is now for every man, woman and child
Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd
They marched with the torch, we gon’ run with it now
Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles
From dark roads he rose, to become a hero
Facin’ the league of justice, his power was the people
Enemy is lethal, a king became regal
Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful
We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through
Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
The coming of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory
When the war is done, when it’s all said and done
We’ll cry glory, oh glory

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: dr.bchavis@nnpa.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc

January 28, 2015
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