In one of our previous class discussions, we talked about the representation of an “individual’s story” and “stories of individuals”. Malcolm X’s story was an individual’s story, while Get On the Bus is a conglomerate of stories of individuals. In elevating one person’s story to represent the story of a people, I understand the significance of Malcolm X; but what I appreciate more about Lee’s Get On the Bus is that he showcases lives that doesn’t seem to matter in a larger context to be just as important– black lives matter.
Not only do the audience get a glimpse into all the struggles of the seemingly “common” black man, but we get the nuances of every single one of their careers, passions, love, and sorrow. Each and every one of those black men on the bus have just as much depth as any individual story, and each and every one of those lives were real. Spike Lee does a phenomenal job portraying individual stories to the audience so we get a sense of various intra-racial identities and narratives. And although they do not get a 3 hour long movie like Malcolm X does, every single one of them takes the spotlight at some point in the movie.
Another way that Lee emphasizes black lives matter is in the final scenes when Jeremiah dies from a heart attack. The men on the bus travel across the country to support the Million Man March, but ultimately choose to stay by a brother’s side despite their long awaited participation in the movement. The movement is right outside their doors, but they choose to sacrifice their dream for the life of one man. The cohesiveness of brotherhood in this film further emphasizes the importance of black lives that Spike Lee alludes to. Not a single one of them is disposable; not a single one of them deserves to be left unloved. In the end, the brothers cry outside the bus grieving collectively because to them, that one black life mattered.