Self-Efficacy in Selma

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In 20th century America, Martin Luther King Jnr. became one of the leading historical figures in fighting racism. He inspired the masses he led in his duties as the leader and helped them build a sense of trust (DuVernay). He propelled individuals, which had long accumulated in them after slavery, to conquer their latent feelings of helplessness and impotence. The leader encouraged self-efficacy in his attempts to empower individuals; it is “described as having the ability or competence to successfully perform a task” (Whetten and Cameron 447). Based on the movie Selma, Martin Luther King and his allies fostered self-efficacy through several means.

King offered a place for the meeting of black groups, at the basement of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He encouraged black communities to take mass action against a company that had segregated his fellow people, and guided it by several Christian principles. The successful boycott promoted the black movement as they gained further confidence and confronted racism.

The leader also empowered individuals through the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC who were moved by King’s success in his boycott. As the president of the association, he managed to convince other leaders that they had the potential to cause a change in civil rights in America (DuVernay). Through the “Crusade for Citizenship” program, King was able to convince millions of citizens to register as voters. His later campaigns such as the Albany Movement also affirmed his ability to mobilize individuals and convince them that their actions were valuable to the civil rights movement. In Selma, his actions against the Whites inspired millions of other blacks to join the movement where they eventually got their breakthrough.

In all the events above, King affirmed the potential of individual power, catalyzing chain reaction of events that saw the black community get accorded equal rights to the white community. Overall, self-efficacy was among the main drivers of the pervasive change.


Selma. Dir. Ava DuVernay. 2014. CD.

Whetten, David A. and Kim S. Cameron. Developing Management Skills. 8th. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.

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