Opening before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, “Selma” tells the story of a three-month period in 1965 when King led a campaign for equal voting rights for African Americans in the state of Alabama.
The film, which opened Jan. 9, also comes before the 50th anniversary of the monumental Selma to Montgomery marches this March. Throughout filming, community leaders came together to play a part in the movie, just like in 1965.
Mark Story, 52, was born and raised in Selma, Alabama. He resides there presently. After hearing ads on the radio and being coaxed by friends and family, Story decided to be an extra in “Selma.”
Story is Caucasian. He is a business owner and a member of the local school board. He said he was worried about how he would be represented in the movie.
“I think there was some apprehension to be portrayed in the movie and not knowing how you were going to be portrayed,” said Story. “I want to be very sensitive to that.”
Story ended up playing the role of a policeman who stood on the other side of the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. In the film, he along with other policemen, blocked the marchers from going any further.
Story said that the director of the film, Ava DuVernay, came to each of them standing on the line as a policeman. She shook their hand and asked their name.
DuVernay attempted to ease any apprehension the extras may have been feeling about playing the controversial role.
“She said, ‘These men were good men and upstanding citizens of their community that loved their children and loved their family and loved their community. They were just doing what they were told to do at that time,’” said Story. “She said, ‘I don’t want you to be ashamed of playing this part.’”
Many residents of Selma were extras in the movie, including Story’s fellow board members.
“I’m on the board. I’m Caucasian. We have other people on the board that are African American and they were on the other side. They were some of the marchers coming towards us policemen,” said Story. “When they cut we were all slapping each other on the back and having a good time. Enjoying it.”
The current mayor of Selma, George Evans, marched in the bridge scene. Also alongside him were some of the original Selma to Montgomery marchers.
“Some of the people that I know were marchers back in 1965,” said Story. “I was an infant then, but they were teenagers marching.”