Selma Director on LBJ Controversy: ” I Wasn’t Interested in Making a White Savior Movie”

“Selma” director Ava DuVernay has stirred a fair amount of controversy based on her depiction of the relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernayformer president Lyndon B. Johnson.

Specifically, Johnson Administration domestic affairs chief Joseph A. Califano, Jr.“falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself.”

“In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea,” Califano wrote in the Washington Post. “He considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, [and] he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted.”

During an interview with Rolling Stone, DuVernay explained her portrayal of Johnson:

“Every filmmaker imbues a movie with their own point of view. The script was the LBJ/King thing, but originally, it was much more slanted to Johnson. I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie; I was interested in making a movie centered on the people of Selma. You have to bring in some context for what it was like to live in the racial terrorism that was going on in the deep south at that time. The four little girls have to be there, and then you have to bring in the women. So I started adding women.

This is a dramatization of the events. But what’s important for me as a student of this time in history is to not deify what the president did. Johnson has been hailed as a hero of that time, and he was, but we’re talking about a reluctant hero. He was cajoled and pushed, he was protective of a legacy — he was not doing things out of the goodness of his heart. Does it make it any worse or any better? I don’t think so. History is history and he did do it eventually. But there was some process to it that was important to show.”

Most political leaders are in fact reluctant to make unpopular decisions and only move when pushed by the people. It seem that DuVernay is making that point in the film.


13 Comment

  1. Tragic! As tragic as those times were and the message that this movie attempted to convey. It's highly disappointing to see what individuals are willing to do to promote feministism. There's nothing wrong with having an opinion, but to influence the conscious of our youth by misguided facts to encourage an illusive movement, is complete ignorance. "LBJ" may not have directed a "white savior" movie as she stated, but she certainly directed a film that feed white supremacy, which is a financial recipe or success to crossing over and capturing the attention of the white audience for profit. So, many educated and popus blacks and they're need to get rich quick are willing to compromise relationships and creating opportunities for their own, just to entertain whites for profit. So, you're just an educated "Thug", this is why I say "poverty" affects us all, regardless of who we think we are, because our greed or need for money will continuously make us a fool if that's what we're chasing.

  2. agenda driven movie

  3. Why I believe that is simply unadulterated Capitalism, Jimmie. America at it's best.

  4. Good Job, Ava! The 1957, 1960, and 1964 Civil Rights Acts set up the Civil Rights Commission to look into charges of voter rights discrimination, appoint referees to help blacks register to vote, only, when Congress found cases of past discrimination, and outlined the requirements for registration to be the same for everyone. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was not strong enough, and had extensions in 1970. 1975, 1982, 2007, and, supposedly, projected to 2032. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court decided to drop all voting protections and return to semi-Jim Crow tactics, and the bubble busted because it had too much air. Some of this air will, certainly, be seen in the "New Salem" movie with the familiar Capitalistic twist.

  5. Wow, some people act like this is the first time a directortory has taken artistic license with their movie.

  6. I first saw this movie advertised in the theater. Something told me that this movie had a hidden agenda, especially, since it is coming out at a time when there is a lot of racial tension. I feel like this, if she felt that badly about the script than why not quit. The story of Dr. King has been told so many times, and telling it again isn't going to do anything for us. Make a movie about how we can get out of this trap we are in.

  7. "Feminism?!" Spike Lee did the same thing with Malcolm X. As he pointed out there were some scenes that wasn't true. He said he was making a movie using some historic facts, not a biography of Malcolm X!

  8. Shrerill A. Jones; if only most you black women who claim to be so educated, can see the bigger picture to what's being done with this movement of "Feministism". In my opinion it's just as bad as racism, because it put even more division on the structure of a black family. This isn't by mistake, this is apart of the poverty agenda. Feeding into ignorance as if women are being left out of the equation on the productivity of our country and world. There wouldn't be a world without a woman, but we both have a responsibility to the expectancy of life and we have to do work together. If there's two bulls in the shed, at what time will the milk get produce. The cost of our sacrifices today just to have a tittle in front of our names are destroying more lives today, then there were yesterday. But, we claim we are more intelligent, and women are more empowering; but again at the risk of losing the productivity of our children. The media stays away from the truth, on how more families are successful that work together; oppose to promoting single motherhood in black families. Spike Lee production of "Malcolm X" wasn't done to belittle black woman, but it demonstrated a black family who sacrifice to change the world, by working together. Not by trying to undermine the vision of a black man; every position that generates an income and help structure our society is just as important as being a president of a company. The writing is on the wall!!!!

  9. Thank U Ava DuVernay….These grown assed ppl act like the spoiled ass brats that they are. We didn't need another White savior movie anyway! Ask John Lewis if LBJ was there on the Pettis Bridge when he beaten damned near to death….

  10. Regarding the comment below saying that nobody needs another "white savior" movie:
    Agreed, but what about a tip of the hat to historical accuracy, merely acknowledging that LBJ supported change, rather than depicting him as an opponent. And how does DuVernay know LBJ "was not doing things out of the goodness of his heart"? She can't know what was in his head. And, it does matter whether he did it for political expediency or because he truly thought it was the right thing to do, because either way it speaks to his character, and character matters a great deal when you're evaluating a president — in the past, present or future.

  11. she is saying he supported but not initially. he went against kennedy on this matter too. never the less, hollywood never loses sleep over historical inaccuracies. have you seen the old Cleopatra with a lilly white blue eyed woman and then the upcoming version? there are just too many films with gross and offensive ACTUAL historical inaccuracies to even being pointing out more.

  12. This is what happens whenever a black director makes a movie about historical events. The same thing happened with the Debbie Allen directed movie "Amistad." The press and news media turned the conversation away from the beauty and power of the story. From Enslaved Africans overthrowing their captures and gaining their freedom to endless discussions of one small historic point (whether Cinque actually met with the then President – which he did) and everything else about the movie went unnoticed. White people have been co-opting, changing and white-washing history in movies since the invention of film. They make no excuses and do whatever they want in their movies. The one thing they do better than most is change the color of actual living or dead figures. Many a black historical figure has been made white in books and film. And to hell with historical accuracy and complains from the black community. They don't skip a beat – from Jesus to Moses and beyond – whites take "artistic license" with historical figures because they say that a movie won't sell if it's told "truthfully." Whites must always be made to look good, to come in on their white horse and save the black people from themselves. As a director one of your jobs is to make a movie with drama and passion. Having LBJ's character as one who was not in favor of MLK and his tactic of non-violent civil disobedience gives the movie passion and drama. Is it entirely 100 percent accurate – no and no movie will ever be. If you want real historic accuracy read a book and most times history books get it wrong because they are written by the victor. Remember, one movie can't be all things to all people because everyone sees and interprets a movie from their own point of view. I've seen plenty of movies that weren't completely historically accurate but I enjoyed them just the same. I always say if you don't like the movies that are being released raise the money and make one yourself. I applaud Ms. DuVernay on using the one hour and 45 minutes that she had with the budget that she had to make the best movie that she could make.

  13. Again, Whites take creative liscense and even facts and accuracy to a whole new level in their movies. Even going as far as to change the race of the character, facts be damned, and truth too. I for one applaud DuVernay for not allowing Whites, LBJ or anyone else dictate to her how this movie should be directed.

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