Oprah Winfrey joins 'Selma' cast at town hall

The Selma Times-JournalJune 23, 2014 

SELMA, Ala. -- At first there was applause, then cheers. By the time Oprah Winfrey walked on stage at Selma High School, the crowd erupted in jubilation.

Winfrey was one of four "Selma" cast and crew members that answered questions Sunday about the film during a town hall meeting at the high school's auditorium.

Selma Mayor George Evans was even a little star-struck as he introduced the cast and crew.

"I've had the opportunity to introduce lots of important people, but today I have the rare opportunity to introduce someone that is important and famous," Evans said as he introduced the film's director Ava DuVernay.

Other attendees included David Oyelowo, who is playing Martin Luther King Jr., and Paul Garnes, an executive producer.

Winfrey also talked about her choice to play Annie Lee Cooper in the movie. Cooper is well-known for hitting former Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark in 1965.

Prior to her confrontation with Clark, Cooper stood in line for hours outside the Dallas County Courthouse to register to vote. Clark ordered Cooper to go home. Cooper claimed Clark poked her in the back of the neck with either a club or a cattle prod. Cooper turned and delivered a swift right hook to the sheriff's jaw.

"I didn't want to choose Annie Lee Cooper originally because I haven't really done that many films, but the films that I have done are pretty memorable for slapping people," Winfrey joked. "I decided to do it because of the weight of the history that Annie Lee Cooper carries. She represents what it meant to stand in line and be denied, not once, not twice but over and over again. When she hit that sheriff she didn't just hit him for herself, but for everybody who had been frustrated and didn't want to take anymore."

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