The film Selma is a fictional portrayal of the campaign for African-American voting rights in Selma,
Alabama in 1965 led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Outside of the film’s cinematic merits, Selma
stirred some controversy over its historical accuracy. In particular, President Lyndon Johnson’s
top assistant for domestic affairs, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., felt the movie unfairly presented
Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King, Jr. Califano wrote a scathing attack on the
film that appeared in the December 26, 2014 issue of the Washington Post.
After viewing the film, and reading the Califano piece, you are to develop a clear thesis statement expressing your own
views on the Johnson/Selma controversy.
Some possible questions to address in your paper are: How was the Civil Rights Movement
organized? What roles did the Kennedy and Johnson administrations play in the Civil Rights
Movement? How is the Civil Rights Movement presented in the movie Selma, by Califano, and
in class lectures? Are Califano or DuVernay biased sources? By citing specific events and
organizations, what gains were made by the Civil Rights Movement? What issues remained
unresolved by the Civil Rights Movement and are these issues with us today?
End your paper with a conclusion that provides your own thoughts on the Johnson/Selma
controversy and how the evidence you provide in your paper supports your thesis.
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