John Legend and Common Sing Selma's "Glory" at the Metropolitan Club

January 7, 2015 5:33 PM

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Bracing an icy rain, Harry Belafonte, Gay Talese, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ruben Santiago Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, Gayle King, Tamron Hall, and many others filled the grand ballroom of the Metropolitan Club on Tuesday for a luncheon honoring Ava DuVernay for her movie Selma. The journey was worth it. Backed by an ensemble of ten musicians, John Legend and Common performed their song, original for this historic film. With "We Are the World" on her mind, DuVernay gave these artists their freedom when she asked them to compose a special song for the film, but instructed them: it should be memorable. Coming at the end of this important movie about a benchmark moment in American history, "Glory" is a powerful anthem, but now performed at this special venue, you could hear the relevance of bringing the 1965 event into the present ethos. Ferguson is intoned, and you know the Martin Luther King, Jr.-led march across the bridge remains a metaphor for a democracy that is a work-in-progress.

Along with Harry Belafonte, Gay Talese a New York Times writer at the time reporting on Selma, was one of the few actual witnesses in the room. Talese affirmed the accuracy of DuVernay's film to the history. Belafonte appears in a cameo of archival footage at movie's end. At last year's New York Fil...

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