“Selma” Director Defends Film’s Portrayal of LBJ-MLK Dispute on Voting Rights Legislation

As we continue our interview with Selma director Ava DuVernay, she responds to the controversy around her film’s portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson and his relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film depicts him as a reluctant, and even obstructionist, politician who had the FBI monitor and harass King. “I’m not here to rehabilitate anyone’s image or be a custodian of anyone’s legacy,” DuVernay says. She expresses dismay that the debate has shifted attention from the film’s focus on protest and resistance that continues today over police brutality. DuVernay also describes how she screened Selma at the White House for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama 50 years after D.W. Griffith was there to screen the notoriously racist film Birth of a Nation for President Woodrow Wilson.

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