Hip hop artist Common spoke to the Huffington Post Monday about his role in the film Selma, saying that Americans have made little progress in regards to race relations since the days of slavery and segregation.
The rapper discussed the state of racial politics in the United States with Huffington’s Chris Branch, with both drawing “parallels” between the politics of the Civil War Film Lincoln, and those in Selma.
“The present day is so relevant to, like, the times.” Common said.
The pair then discussed the dynamics of the messages in both films. Common came to the conclusion that, “now, 50 years later,” there is still an important story to be told about America’s handling of racial issues.
Sometimes we say, ‘Oh, because we have an African-American president, and black people are my friends,’ we act like we’ve gotten past some of the issues, but we haven’t.
It’s not just white people. Black people, we have our issues too. Latinos have issues to evolve. We all have racial issues where we have to come to a better understanding of each other. That’s what I really believe Selma showed me, to be honest.
Common, who recently met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss reforms in the state’s criminal justice system in the wake the death of Eric Garner, said that being part of the film helped to educate him on the issues the country faced during King’s time.
“To be honest, I didn’t know that many people, like that it was white people that came and said, ‘We’re fighting for these rights,'” he said. “They were just standing up for humanity.”
Selma, which will make its official debut Friday, focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s role in the civil rights movement.