by Yvette Carnell
Since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., African-Americans have maintained a near obsession with King and his close aides, to the exclusion of other activists of that era, such as Ella Baker, and those who paved the way for King. Keeping the embers of deification smoldering in the flame of our Civil Rights history is dangerous considering what we know about James Bevel, an aide to MLK, played by rapper Common in the movie “Selma”.
Common, the rapper who said during a Golden Globes speech, “I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty”, as if he, a black man, had ever been deployed to manage dissent within poor communities, played a child molester in the movie “Selma.”
During that same speech, Common said, “I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote”, but in a very literal sense, he actually portrayed a man convicted of sexually abusing his own daughter.
The REVEREND James Bevel, glorified by Common in the movie “Selma”, was convicted of child molestation in 2008.
Bevel’s daughter, Aaralyn Mills, recorded her father making excuses for sexually molesting her during a 2005 phone call. The good reverend actually had 16 children with seven different women, one of whom pushed Mills, 27, to report the molestation to police. Some of Bevel’s children were still living with him, and the siblings were worried about their welfare.
During the recording, Mills asked Bevel if he considered himself a pedophile, to which he replied that all women were prostitutes until they reached the age where sex was only for procreation, the Washington Post reported at the time.
“What female,” Bevel snapped, “produces a son that’s worth a goddamn, that can stand on principles because his mother educated him early on to be principled, because she was principled? Where is one who is not a prostitute?”
Bevel, who recounted to Andrew Young a story of having a conversation with Jesus, was regarded by some as odd. After King’s assassination, Bevel’s religious rants became so outrageous that Young took him to a mental hospital.
Still, however, Bevel had been close to Martin Luther King Jr. According to the Post, “it was Bevel who conceived a plan to use teenagers in a peaceful march against the forces of Connor.” The first Selma march was Bevel’s idea. Bevel was standing in the parking lot of the Memphis’s Lorraine Motel when King was shot.
Common, apparently, doesn’t know any of this, given his breathtakingly clueless interview with the Wall Street Journal. During the interview, the rapper turned actor gushed about the character he played:
James Bevel passed in 2008 so I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him. Ironically enough, I was at the Million Man March that took place in 1995 and he spoke. He’s known for having brilliant ideas about strategizing, waiting to move forward for human rights and for the people.
The disturbed Mr. Bevel is known for a lot more than having “brilliant ideas”. The least we can do is be honest about it.