David Oyelowo plays Martin Luther King, Jr. (Middle) and Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King in SELMA, from Paramount Pictures and Pathé.

David Oyelowo plays Martin Luther King, Jr. (Middle) and Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King in SELMA, from Paramount Pictures and Pathé.

*The Christmas Day release of “Selma” caps off a year in which protests over the shooting deaths of unarmed black males by white police officers harkened back to the civil rights protests of the 60s.

“Selma” follows the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr., including the violent state trooper crackdown on the Edmund Pettus Bridge – a day that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

David Oyelowo attends an Official Academy Members Screening Of SELMA hosted by The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on December 15, 2014 in New York City

David Oyelowo attends an Official Academy Members Screening Of SELMA hosted by The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on December 15, 2014 in New York City

For the actor playing Dr. King, the force that broadened the protests beyond race has parallels to the reason today’s protesters yelling “hands up, don’t shoot,” “I can’t breathe” and “black lives matter” are not just African Americans.

“When it was voting rights that was being asked for, it was a black problem. Once Bloody Sunday happened and the country saw those images, it became an American problem,” Oyelowo said during a recent press conference for the film in New York. “I think with Ferguson, when it was about Ferguson, it was a black problem. When the country saw the injustice of what happened to Eric Garner, it became an American problem.”

Oyelowo continues below:

“Selma” opens on Dec. 25 in select theaters. Watch the trailer below.