Earlier this week, it was announced that 90,000 students in several US cities would be able to see Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” for free. Now, five more cities have joined the free screening program, making the total 13 cities nationwide.

African-American business leaders in Dallas, Chicago, Washington D.C. and the Oakland/San Francisco Bay area are giving 7th, 8th and 9th graders the chance to see the movie about the historic civil rights march in Selma, AL for free. The cities join New York City, San Francisco, Sarasota, Westchester, New Jersey, Nashville, Boston and Philadelphia.

The business leaders from the new cities coming to the program include Chicago’s E. Robbie Robinson, managing director at BDT & Company and Vice Chair of the Board of After School Matters, and Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company and an advisory board member of After School Matters, Dallas’ former Ambassador Ron Kirk and Paget L. Alves, New Orleans’ Roderick West, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Entergy Corporation, Oakland/San Francisco Bay’s Charles Ward, Chief Development Officer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Washington D.C.’s Toni Cook Bush, News Corporation, and DeDe Lea, executive vice president, Global Government Relations, Viacom,

As a whole, leaders like Tony Coles, former CEO, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Frederick O. Terrell, vice chairman, Credit Suisse and Harvard University’s professor of African American Studies Henry Louis Gates, see this as an opportunity to bring communities together and teach children about how the history affects the present.

“The chance to share a film, which has so poignantly captured a pivotal moment in our history, has struck a deep chord within the African-American business community and resonated so profoundly across the country that a simple idea has become a national movement,” said Coles. “We are gratified that generous donors across the country see the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our youth.”

“I think the overwhelming response to our ‘Selma’ initiative across the country has been a reminder to all of us of the power of a simple idea and the collective power of communities,” said Terrell. “Buying tickets for our children to see this wonderful film is an opportunity for greater awareness and education.”

“This initiative is unprecedented in African-American history. Never before has a group of black leaders donated the funds to enable students across the country to view a film created by a black director for free,” said Gates. “This is a testament to Ava DuVernay and the cast of ‘Selma,’ and to the leaders of this initiative, Charles Phillips [director of Viacom and CEO of Infor] and Bill Lewis [co-chairman of investment banking, Lazard Ltd].”

In Chicago, students attending non-profit organization After School Matters, which gives extra learning opportunities to the city’s teenagers, will be sent an invitation to receive a complimentary ticket for “Selma.” The students will have to present their student ID and After School Matters ticket to be able to view the film; this particular initiative begins this Friday.

For other cities, children need to show their student ID or a report card to participating theaters. To learn which theaters are participating in your area and info on group ticket sales, visit selmamovie.com/studenttickets. Also, use the hashtag #SelmaForStudents to discuss the program.


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By Monique Jones

Monique Jones blogs about race and culture in entertainment, particularly movies and television. You can read her articles at Racialicious, and her new site, COLOR . You can also listen to her new podcast, What would Monique Say.

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