'Selma' Director Responds to Criticisms of Lyndon B. Johnson Portrayal

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Ava Duvernay

"Bottom line is folks should interrogate history. Don't take my word for it or LBJ rep's word for it. Let it come alive for yourself."

Selma director Ava DuVernay fired back at critics who assert that the film’s portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson is inaccurate.

DuVernay took to Twitter on Sunday to respond to a claim by former Johnson domestic affairs chief Joseph A. Califano Jr. that the 1965 civil rights marches from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., were “LBJ’s idea." DuVernay called the thought “jaw dropping and offensive to SNCC, SCLC and black citizens who made it so” in a tweet posted on Sunday.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were instrumental civil rights organizations in the South during the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the SCLC's first president.

Read more 'Selma': AFI Fest Review

DuVernay followed up her tweet with another: “Bottom line is folks should interrogate history. Don't take my word for it or LBJ rep's word for it. Let it come alive for yourself.”

Selma is based on the marches King led in which participants called for voting rights.

Califano wrote about his disagreements with Selma’s script in a Dec. 26 op-ed in the Washington Post. Califano claimed LBJ considered the Voting Rights Act “his greatest legislative achievement” and viewed King as a partner in the civil rights movement, not an adversary, as the film portrays him.

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