[Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson. LBJ Library photo taken on 12/3/1963 by Yoichi Okamoto in the Oval Office at the White House, W28-12.]

"Selma" Movie

Paramount Pictures recent release "Selma" depicts the brave campaign for voting rights, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and waged in Alabama, a half a century ago.

In telling the story, the film portrays the relationship between Dr. King and President Johnson, suggesting that the two men were largely at odds over the effort in Selma. In fact, Dr. King and President Johnson were in accord over the need for voting rights.

Below is archival material that sheds light on the momentous partnership that Dr. King and President Johnson formed in the area of voting rights and on civil rights in general. Though the relationship was complicated, President Johnson encouraged Dr. King to show the worst of voting oppression so that Americans would demand an end to the injustice, just as Dr. King pointed out that opening up the African American vote in the Deep South would expand Johnson's voting base.

Telephone conversation between LBJ and MLK in which they plan strategy to pass a voting rights bill (Jan. 15, 1965)



February 9, 1965. LBJ and MLK met at the White House. The president pledged swift action on voting rights legislation. The previous week MLK and many others were arrested in Selma at a voting rights demonstration. Photo: Excerpt from President Johnson’s daily diary, 2/9/65. See the full day here.

Watch part of LBJ’s speech to Congress urging passage of the Voting Rights Act (March 15, 1965)

The working partnership between LBJ and MLK from our Civil Rights Summit - LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream (panel with Todd Purdum, Taylor Branch, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Andrew Young)

LBJ and Civil Rights Online Exhibit

LBJ and Selma: The Califano Reports

Note: Photos in our archive may be downloaded and are public domain. For more photos regarding the Voting Rights Act, you may search the archive by typing Voting Rights Act in the search field.


In "Selma," a missing message of hope by Luci Baines Johnson, TribTalk, The Texas Tribune

Does the film "Selma" portray LBJ unfairly? LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark K. Updegrove on Face the Nation, January 4, 2015 [VIDEO]

How Many LBJs Did You Skew Today? Slate's The Gist Podcast (starts at 3:58)
Alvin B. Tillery, Jr., explains what it's like to watch the film Selma as a black American history scholar

Whose History Is It, Anyway? by Edward Rothstein, The Wall Street Journal

Visiting the LBJ Library in the Shadow of Selma by Michael Agresta, Texas Observer

'Selma' and celebrating an American triumph By Richard Goodwin, The Washington Post

"Selma" vs. "Selma" by Sam Tanenhaus, The New Yorker

Not Just a Movie by Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

Bill Moyers on Saving Our Democracy, 'Selma' and LBJ by Karin Kamp, BillMoyers.com

The 'Selma' Criticism For How It Portrays Lyndon B. Johnson: Is It Fair? by David Edelstein, NPR Fresh Air

Why Should You Care "Selma" Gets LBJ Wrong by David Kaiser, TIME

Is "Selma's" portrayal of LBJ historically accurate? CBS News

'Selma' vs. History by Elizabeth Drew, The New York Review of Books

They Stood Together by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, The Dallas Weekly

What 'Selma' Gets Wrong About LBJ by Peter Fenn, U.S. News & World Report

President Lyndon Johnson's Black Adviser: MLK and Voting-Rights Talk Were Welcomed by Richard Prince, The Root

'Selma' distorts the truth about LBJ by Richard Cohen, The Washington Post

Rep. John Lewis: An Oral History of Selma and the Struggle for the Voting Rights Act by John Lewis, TIME

'Selma' sets off a controversy amid Oscar buzz by Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

Depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson in 'Selma' Raises Hackles by Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times