Anthony Mackie is making his feature directorial debut with Spark, centering on Claudette Colvin, the young woman who first refused to give up her seat on the bus. King Richard’s Saniyya Sidney is cast as Colvin, the unsung pioneer of the Civil Rights era.
On March 2, 1955, Colvin, who was 15, was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a crowded segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This was nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing which led to the Montgomery Bus boycotts. Parks, unlike Colvin, became a symbol of the Civil Rights era symbol for courageously doing essentially the same thing.
Civil Rights leaders of that time initially embraced her for her courage. However, those same leaders later removed her story from the narrative. Colvin’s case was dropped by civil rights campaigners because Colvin was unmarried and pregnant during the proceedings.
Mackie learned of Claudette Colvin during a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Much like how the story of entrepreneur Bernard Garrett sparked him to star in The Banker, he felt Colvin’s story needed to be told.
“Not only was I moved, I was inspired,” Mackie said in a statement to Deadline, which first reported the news. “It’s great to be a superhero in movies but she’s a real live one living amongst us and I’m honored to tell her story.”
Niceole R. Levy, who worked with Mackie on The Banker is penning the film with the blessing of Colvin and her family, who gave them the rights to her story as well as Phillip Hoose’s book Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.
Colvin added: “67 years ago, when history glued me to the seat of that bus in Montgomery, I could never have imagined that standing up for my rights could spark a movement that would change the course of history. It is really an honor to have my story retold, by Mr. Mackie, for future generations to learn about our past so they can move forward knowing that progress is possible, and things do get better. I hope my story will inspire youth to continue to fight for civil rights and human dignity.”
Spark will be a co-production between Make it with Gravy Productions, Mansa Productions, Mandalay Pictures in Association with Ambergreen Entertainment.