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I took my kids to see Selma. I had to.

I TOOK MY family to see “Selma,” the Golden Globe-nominated film that portrays the bloody battle for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

I took them, not because of the film’s historical lessons or cinematic splendor. I did so because my children must see their story on screens large enough to hold it, and hear truth from voices other than mine.

In the film’s first scene, children descend the steps of 16th Street Baptist Church, the church the Ku Klux Klan bombed in 1963, killing four girls and galvanizing the civil-rights movement.

I’d been to that very church, while visiting a friend in Birmingham, Ala. I’d cried as I placed my hand against the plaque that paid homage to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley – the four girls who died there.

Still, watching the dramatization of their last moments was difficult because the four girls were very close to the ages of my own children.

I peeked at my children and hunkered down in my seat to brace myself. But when the bomb exploded on screen, my body jerked involuntarily, as much from the knowledge of what it portrayed as from its suddenness.

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Illustration by Richard Harrington.

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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon.

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