Is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or President Lyndon B. Johnson the True Hero of “Selma”?

Lyndon Johnson is seen with civil rights leaders including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in this undated photo. (Getty Images) Advertisement
Lyndon Johnson is seen with civil rights leaders including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in this undated photo. (Getty Images)

Listen up, Oscar voters: Washington pooh-bahs are suggesting — OK, demanding — you shun the widely acclaimed Dr. Martin Luther King biopic, Selma, because it’s not favorable enough to former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

But filmmaker Ava DuVernay and fans of the just-opened movie aren’t taking this mildly: They’re tweeting their outrage that a movie about black Americans and King’s historic 1965 campaign for the Voting Rights Act is being attacked for failing to give enough credit to white people, specifically LBJ.

Thus is born the latest Washington-vs-Hollywood snit for the social-media age.

Selma, which opened in limited release on Christmas Day and is scheduled to open wide on Jan. 9, has earned raves for DuVernay and much chatter about awards.

But not everyone was so pleased.

It started in a Politico magazine story last week. Historian Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, charged that the movie “flies in the face of history” in depicting the “pivotal” relationship between MLK and LBJ as contentious.

“Why does the film’s mischaracterization matter? Because at a time when racial tension is once again high, from Ferguson to Brooklyn, it does no good to bastardize one of the most hallowed chapters in the Civil Rights Movement by suggesting that the president himself stood in the way of progress,” Updegrove wrote.

Then it continued in the Washington Post on Dec. 26, when ex-LBJ domestic policy aide Joseph Califano Jr trashed Hollywood, the filmmakers and the film in an even angrier opinion piece that charged LBJ had been “falsely portrayed” as an opponent of King and voting rights for blacks.

“What’s wrong with Hollywood?,” Califano opened, under the headline, “The movie ‘Selma’ has a glaring flaw.”

“The makers of the new movie Selma apparently just couldn’t resist taking dramatic, trumped-up license with a true story that didn’t need any embellishment to work as a big-screen historical drama,” he declared.

Click here to read more.

Maria Puente

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