Last week it was announced that seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders in New York City would be able to see the movie Selma for free, thanks to the generosity of Paramount Pictures and 27 African-American business leaders. Because of the popularity of the New York City endeavor, Paramount and the business leaders plan to team up with other cities to create funds for students in those locations to see the movie for free, too.
"The response to our program in New York is better than we could have anticipated, and we are truly moved by the generosity and outpouring of support," Charles Phillips, chief executive of New York software company Infor, said in a statement. "The story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s heroic efforts in Alabama during the civil rights movement is an important chapter in our country's history—and one that still resonates deeply today. Due to the many generous donors, tens of thousands of students around the country will have the opportunity to experience this extraordinary film."
According to Biz Journals, Paramount said that because of the attention the New York City initiative received, theaters across the country received phone calls wondering if they were having free screenings as well. "This is a rare moment when a film has transformed into a cultural movement in recognition of a highly relevant message that touched many people," Paramount said.
According to Phillips, a total of 90,000 students will be able to see the movie for free, which includes the original 27,000 New York City students. When the New York City announcement was made, 60,000 students signed up for the 27,000 tickets in 48 hours, and the group is attempting to accommodate everyone. But it doesn't stop there. Apparently there will be another announcement later this week, with more numbers being added.
New cities and areas participating in the screenings include Boston; Nashville, Tenn.; New Jersey; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Sarasota, Fla.; and Westchester County, N.Y., with more being added throughout the week.
Phillips also stated that Abyssinian Baptist Church will offer screenings on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Theodore Wells, Jr., one of the investors involved in the initiative, will speak and explain why the group decided to come together to pay for the screenings.
Below are the names of the people who made all of this possible:
* Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, owners of the Amsale Group
* Gerald Adolph, senior partner at Booz & Co., and Gwen Adolph
* Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox, and Lloyd Bean
* Valentino D. Carlotti, partner at Goldman Sachs Group
* Ken Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, and Kathryn Chenault
* Tony Coles, former CEO of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and Robyn Coles
* Edith Cooper, executive vice president and global head of human-capital management at Goldman Sachs Group, and Roger Taylor
* Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, and Annette L. Nazareth
* Bruce Gordon, chairman of ADT and former CEO of the NAACP, and Tawana Tibbs
* Charles J. Hamilton Jr., senior counsel at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP, and Pamela G. Carlton, president of Springboard
* Vernon Jordan, senior managing director at Lazard, and Ann Dibble Jordan
* Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks
* Bill Lewis, co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard, and Carol Sutton Lewis
* Ed Lewis, founder of Essence magazine, and Carolyn Lewis
* Tracy Maitland, CEO and founder of Advent Capital Management, and Kimberly Hatchett
* Ray McGuire, head of global banking at Citigroup, and Crystal McCrary
* Scott Mills, executive vice president of human resources and administration at Viacom, and Iva Mills
* Adebayo Ogunlesi, CEO of Global Infrastructure Partners and lead director at Goldman Sachs, and Dr. Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi
* Richard Parsons, senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners, and Laura Parsons
* Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor and director at Viacom, and Karen Phillips
* Jonelle Procope, president of the Apollo Theater, and Fred Terrell, vice chairman of investment banking at Credit Suisse
* Tamara Harris Robinson, CEO of Haramat Advisory Services
* Marva Smalls, executive vice president of global inclusion strategy at Viacom
* Frank Thomas, the Study Group
* John Utendahl, vice chairman of Deustche Bank Americas
* Reginald Van Lee, executive vice president at Booz Allen
* Ted Wells, partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and Nina Wells