Martha’s Vineyard joins the list of major cities offering a free screening of the film Selma to students ages 18 and younger. The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center hosts the movie as a special Valentine’s gift to Vineyard youth at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14.

A group of African American business leaders came up with the idea of free screenings for young people after discussing the film at holiday gatherings. New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Nashville and San Francisco, among other cities, have also offered the free screening.

Richard Paradise, director of the film center, said he feels that movies can engage and enliven subject matter, especially for young people who are very comfortable with visual media.

“Many times we learn about U.S. history (the Civil Rights Movement in this case) from books that can be outdated, a narrower viewpoint, or not have the space to include many details. I feel that a new interpretation of events can add to the discussion. I think the movie Selma does that in important ways,” Mr. Paradise wrote in an email.

Selma focuses on a three-month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led efforts to secure equal voting rights for African Americans. The march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., and the violent opposition surrounding it was one of the major historic events in the Civil Rights Movement. It led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the march to Selma. The movie has received Golden Globe and Academy award nominations.

There will be an interactive dialogue to follow up the film, led by Dukes County commissioner Gretchen Tucker Underwood and Isabella Hazell El-Deiry, a student at Howard University and graduate of MVRHS class of 2013. A tribute to Vineyard women who were involved in the march — Polly Murphy, Nancy Hodgson Whiting, Peg Lilienthal, Virginia Mazer and Nancy Smith — will also be part of the program.

Regular pricing is in place for adults and members of the film center, and advance tickets can be purchased at