'Selma's' depiction of civil rights years: Less saintly, more swagger

December 11, 2014 4:15 PM

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There's a short scene in the upcoming film "Selma" about the events leading up to, and surrounding, the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965 in which Coretta Scott King confronts her husband, Martin, about his suspected infidelities. "Do you love me?" she asks, and he responds in the affirmative. "Do you love any of the others?" she then asks, and after a pause he acknowledges that there are indeed others by answering, "No."

It's not a major moment in director Ava DuVernay's movie, but it is in a sense an astonishing one. That's because films about the civil rights movement have barely acknowledged Martin Luther King Jr.'s adulterous ways and have for the most part portrayed activists of the era as sexless and saintly.

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