NORTH HAVEN -- Aaliyah Kerr and her friends had the day off from school, but spent it learning.
"We all know the stories, but we don't know the depth," said Kerr, an eighth grader, of the civil rights movement.
She and her friends soaked in "Selma" on Monday. The Golden Globe-winning movie tracks Dr. Martin Luther King's crusade for equal rights.
"It wasn't easy fighting for the rights that we have now, like to vote, and sometimes we kind of take stuff like that for granted," Kerr said of the movie's takeaway message.
Her realization may be one had by as many as 8,000 other Connecticut students this past weekend. A flash of a report card or student ID got them into "Selma" free of charge thanks to an initiative called "Selma for Students."
"Like, if they get good grades, they deserve it. Like, it's part of history, they should know," said Kerr's friend Jule Brogdon.
Yaleijah Jackson, another friend agreed. "People should know more about what happened because some people really don't know," Jackson, an eighth grader, said.
A group of black business executives raised $2.1 million for middle and high schoolers to have access to the movie, nationwide. It was a free history lesson about MLK's march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery in 1965.
"It was really good and it really spoke to me about the movement and everything that happened in it," said Caleb Harris, a fifth grader.
"It was like a good movie for a lot of people to watch, like for people who don't know about the history," said Alanna Greene, a third grader.
Ilene Saulsbury, 80, lived through the real Selma and liked what she saw at theaters.
"It brought back memories, it did. It certainly did and I was thrilled that there were young people in there that saw it so that they know how far we've come," Saulsbury said.
"Selma for Students" was supposed to end on MLK day, but late Monday night the website said new cities were being added to the initiative due to popular demand. More information can be found here.