‘Selma’ pushed to the back of the bus

January 16, 2015 1:26 PM

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‘Selma’ pushed to the back of the bus

When filmmaker Mario Van Peebles made “Panther,” his highly stylized film about the stunning rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, some former members of the once-revered and feared organization castigated the film’s historical deficiencies. Panther cofounder Bobby Seale branded the movie as “poetic lies.”

So, on a balmy July afternoon shortly after its release in 1995, I went to see the film — with Kathleen Cleaver who, decades earlier, was the Panthers’ high-profile communications secretary and spokesperson. In a near-empty theater in Harvard Square, I watched as Cleaver, then a fellow at the Buntin...

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