Oprah Winfrey, Selma Cast

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Thousands of people, including stars of the Oscar-nominated film Selma, marched on Sunday in the Alabama town of the same name honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., crossing a bridge where the late iconic civil rights leader had almost 50 years ago led a nonviolent demonstration that helped pave the path towards ending racial segregation and discrimination.

Participants made their way towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Selmadirector Ava DuVernary, star David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey, who in the film plays a protestor who is denied her right to register to vote, were seen bowing in prayer during a ceremony at Selma City Hall. King had led his supporters in prayer during their demonstration on the bridge in March 1965.

Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey

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"Look at what they were able to do with so little, and look at how we now have so much," Winfrey said, according to NBC News. "If they could do that, imagine what now can be accomplished with the opportunity through social media and connection, the opportunity through understanding that absolutely we are more alike than we are different."

King was assassinated at age 39 in 1968. He would have turned 86 last week. Monday marks the official Martin Luther King Jr. Day national holiday.

In the historic 1965 march, civil rights protesters were beaten and tear-gassed by police and were forced to turn around. It preceded another one that ended up in the Alabama state capitol of Montgomery.

The film focuses on King's rise to power as a civil rights leader, showing him at demonstrations that turn violent, preaching to supporters and urging President Lyndon Johnson to draft legislation to end racist policies in the South. The Voting Rights Act passed months after the Selma marches.

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The movie was released in late December, months after racially charged protests were held in several U.S. cities following the killings of unarmed black men by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York.

Selma is nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Original Song, "Glory," by cast member Common and fellow music artist John Legend. They performed the track at Sunday's event.

John Legend, Common, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

I had the honor of performing #Glory with @common and the Tuskegee University Gospel Choir on the Pettis Bridge in Selma today.

Een foto die is geplaatst door John Legend (@johnlegend) op

Many fans have expressed outrage that the film did not receive more Oscar nods, notably nominations for acting and directing.

Cheryl Boone, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes for the Oscar winners, told Vulture that Selma is a "terrific motion picture," adding, "There are a lot of terrific motion pictures, it's a very competitive time, and there's a lot of great work that has been done."

"There has to be more diversity going forward," Carmen Ejogo, who plays King's wife Coretta in Selma, told E! News. "I think it keeps the Academy relevant if they keep up to speed in that way."

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