Oprah Winfrey is speaking out about the untimely deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and other black men who were killed by police.
Oprah joined her castmates for the New York City premiere of the Martin Luther King Jr. inspired film, Selma.
“Even if we didn’t know about a Ferguson, or an Eric Garner or a Michael Brown … they were going on,” Oprah told theGrio.com. “The fact that they may have now become newsworthy or made national or international news doesn’t mean there haven’t been nameless Michael Browns or Eric Garners before.”
“My feeling is everything is always happening exactly as it should and on time. There’s no coincidence that this is happening now, but because it’s happening now, people are paying more attention.”
Oprah says that the recent deaths of unarmed black men should serve as a wake-up call.
“Life is always there to teach, enlighten, and open you up to the greater possibilities of what can be done … if you’re willing to be awake and see it. What’s exciting to me is that people are awake. If it took Eric Garner and it took Michael Brown and other instances to do than, then … that’s where we are in our evolvement as human beings.”
Selma chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.
The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.
Oprah believes Selma can serve as a learning tool to the thousands of Americans that are protesting the deaths of Brown, Garner and others.
“I really think that this film can teach people a lot, because what this film says is it’s been done. It was done. Y’all are not the first to do it … the first to have an idea … the first to want to protest … the first to be upset. We didn’t even have the right as citizens to vote in this country, and because of that you had Martin Luther King as a leader joining with his band of brothers with disciplined, rigorous, peaceful protests, and they had a goal and intention in mind. You just can’t march and not know what you’re marching for.”
The Golden Globe-nominated film is directed by Ava DuVernay and stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Oprah Winfrey as voting rights activist Annie Lee Cooper.
Selma hits select theaters Christmas Day and opens nationwide January 9.
Follow theGrio.com’s Entertainment Editor Chris Witherspoon on Twitter @WitherspoonC.