At Selma's New York premiere, actor Wendell Pierce – best known for his work on The Wire – wore a shirt with the words "I Can't Breathe" printed across the front, a reference to the strangulation death of Eric Garner by NYPD officers, who were not charged in relation to the incident.
"So you're coming with a message tonight?" ET's Nischelle Turner asked Pierce when the actor spoke with her before the premiere.
"Well, yeah, I mean the film itself is the message," said Pierce, who plays iconic civil rights leader Rev. Hosea Williams in Selma. "We're talking about honoring the people who were on the front lines 50 years ago, and it's an ongoing continuum of that great American act of making sure that we ensure people's rights."
Oprah Winfrey, who plays celebrated civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper, walked the red carpet outside the Ziegfeld Theater, and she too weighed in on Selma's message and impact on the country.
"This isn't the first time – what we're going through in our country [with] people protesting – it's not the first time and it will not be the last time," Oprah told ET. "With intention, with strategy and with leadership, you can accomplish anything. That's what [Selma's] message is."
Check out the video for more from the stars at of Selma at the New York premiere.
Selma hits theaters
in limited release Dec. 25, and opens wide across the country on Jan. 9, 2015.