Press Release: Central VA students see Selma for free

The following is a press release:

THOUSANDS OF CENTRAL VIRGINIA STUDENTS WILL SEE "SELMA" FILM 'Selma for Students' RVA Helps to Make Civil Rights History Come Alive For Local Students

More than 10,000 students in Central Virginia will enjoy a unique opportunity to learn about the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during Black History Month.

Due to the efforts of "Selma for Students RVA," middle and high school students throughout the region will attend the critically-acclaimed film "Selma" at no cost. Members of various youth organizations in the region will also see the movie without paying admission. "Selma for Students RVA" anticipates that 75 percent of the funds raised for this project will go to local schools, while the remainder will go to youth groups.

Through a relationship with Paramount Pictures, student and youth club members will begin attending the film on Feb. 16.

"Selma for Students RVA" is part of a nationwide movement to allow students to see the recently released "Selma," which has received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song. The film tells the story of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Ala. voting rights march led by Dr. King. The march was met by brutal opposition that deterred neither King nor his supporters from their courageous non-violent stand for change.

The "Selma for Students" effort began earlier this year when a group of African American executives in New York started raising funds to send students to the film. The initiative quickly spread across the country. Local "Selma for Students" chapters are now active in more than 30 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington. National support has come from American Express, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, BET Networks and Essence Magazine.

"Selma for Students RVA" began when a representative of the national effort called Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton and suggested that Richmond schools participate in the project. Holton directed the national group to local entrepreneur and businessman Ken Johnson, whose firm, Johnson, Inc., agreed to spearhead "Selma for Students RVA."

Johnson immediately called several of his friends in the corporate community and began to form a steering committee, including: Ed Baine, Dominion; Jennifer Hunter, Altria; George Martin, McGuireWoods; and Stephanie White, MWV. The group then sought out Melissa Brooks, who coincidentally already had a "Selma for Students" grassroots initiative in process, and joined forces. With civic and corporate partners on board, "Selma for Students RVA" was launched with Johnson serving as chair and the Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation agreeing to serve as the fiscal agent.

"'Selma for Students RVA' hopes that by making 'Selma' freely available, students will have the chance to see history come alive in a meaningful and dramatic way. Success in this endeavor is due to the exemplary support we've received from our generous contributors and the members of our steering and planning committees," said Johnson, president of Johnson Inc., a Richmond-based marketing and communications firm.

In order to maximize the educational benefits of this event, the planning committee is preparing classroom materials to assist local teachers in explaining the history of the Civil Rights Movement. This information can be found on the Selma for Students RVA Facebook page at

"Selma for Students RVA" has received strong support from state and local educational leaders.

"I'm so excited about this project. Bringing this initiative to Richmond and allowing thousands of students to experience history on the big screen is the kind of educational experience that transforms lives. The outpouring of support this project has received speaks volumes about the enduring legacy of Dr. King's work, and I couldn't be happier with the community response," said Secretary of Education Holton.

Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Richmond Public Schools superintendent, also endorsed the "Selma for Students RVA" initiative. He said: "Far too often, history seems remote and inaccessible to students. It can be difficult for them to understand the connection between the past and present. By providing this opportunity, we create the possibility for students to make this connection. 'Selma for Students RVA' is helping to educate students about an important era in American History and the Civil Rights Movement. My thanks go to everyone involved in making the 'Selma for Students RVA' initiative move from concept to reality."

Student groups that want to attend "Selma" as part of the "Selma for Students RVA" project should complete a participation form. Forms can be obtained from Adele Johnson at the Richmond Public School Education Foundation. Johnson can be reached via email at

Selma for Students RVA has partnered with Indiegogo Life for a crowdfunding campaign to further its efforts. To contribute and see updates for the initiative, go to:—2. Or, search "Selma For Students RVA" at

A partial list of contributing organizations includes:

• Altria

• Dominion

• The Black History Museum

• McGuireWoods

• MEGA Mentors


• The Robins Foundation

• VCU Health System

• Verizon