nullCollective power… If we can do something like this together successfully, imagine what else we could do, if we combined resources.

In an unprecedented effort led by a team of African American business leaders in New York, organizations across the U.S. coordinated a massive national campaign to find African American business leaders to underwrite free admission to the Golden Globe-nominated film “Selma” for students around the country.

New cities Boston, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sarasota, FL, and Westchester have come together to create funds that will allow students in these locations to see “Selma” for free at participating theaters.

The efforts are inspired by the success of the program in New York City, in which 27 African American business leaders created a fund for 27,000 of the city’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to see the film for free. Due to the overwhelming demand, the New York City effort sold out in the very first weekend and was expanded to 75,000 tickets.

“Our goal was to educate as many children as we could about the historical importance and contemporary relevance of the march in Selma,” said Bill Lewis, Co-Chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard. “Seeing so many business leaders in other cities join this spontaneous initiative is a wonderful outcome for the children and for our country.”

The students in these cities will show a student ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater for free admittance. The programs begin today, January 12th and run through January 19th (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) or while tickets last.

Business leaders in additional cities are currently organizing commitments and participation from community organizations. Those cities and leaders will be announced Wednesday, January 14th.

The current local business leaders who are leading the efforts are:

Bennie Wiley, Principal, The Wiley Group and Flash Wiley, Counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, in Boston (10,000 tickets)
“How inspiring to see so many members of the African-American community come together to expose our young people to this important chapter in history,” said Bennie Wiley and Flash Wiley. “We are delighted to join this extraordinary effort.”

Lawrence Jackson, Chairman, SourceMark, LLC, Former President, Dollar General, in Nashville (10,000 tickets)
“Director Ava DuVernay has created a film about an important piece of American history,” said Jackson. “Nashville is privileged to raise funds to help bring the film to as many students as possible.”

David R. Jones, President & CEO, CastleOak Securities, L.P., Anré Williams, President, Global Merchant Services, American Express, and Carla A. Harris, Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley in Northern New Jersey (10,000 tickets)
“New Jersey is honored to join its friends in New York in bringing ‘SELMA’ to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message,” said Jones. “We are grateful to the leaders in New York, whose generosity and vision lead to this movement.”

Leslie Brun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, SARR Group, LLC, in Philadelphia (10,000 tickets)
“Philadelphia is happy to do its part in helping students experience the story of Dr. King’s journey in Alabama,” said Brun. “The challenges he faced there will still ring true today for many of our country’s youth.”

Charles Ward, Chief Development Officer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco (10,000 tickets)
“We’ve managed to raise $100,000 in a relatively short period of time. That will send 10,000 kids to see the movie,” said Ward. “We do expect that there may be even greater demand. We’d like to cover as many admissions as possible.”

The Grain Family in Sarasota, FL (1,000 tickets)
“‘SELMA’ tells the story of Dr. King’s march so powerfully and so beautifully, that we are honored to contribute to such a worthwhile cause,” said the Grain Family.

Michael V. Littlejohn, Partner, IBM Global Business Services in Westchester (6,000 tickets)
“We are so inspired by the program in New York City and are humbled to be able to contribute to its success,” said Littlejohn.

For a list of participating theaters in select cities offering free admission to students during this program and for information on group sales, visit

To help get the word out about the program, tweet using the hashtag #SelmaForStudents.

“Selma” is now playing in theaters nationwide. To learn more about the film, go to