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Character Analysis Of The Movie Selma

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When I first viewed “Selma” in a government class several years ago, I was emotionally moved by the nobility of civil rights activists and the strength they carried while enduring brutal violence. Upon recently reviewing it, I felt the same emotions overcome me. However, even though I felt much compassion for the civil rights activists, I felt none for Lyndon B. Johnson. “Selma” portrays Johnson as more interested in his own Great Society than the violent acts of oppression happening right in front of him. He appears to have forced himself to push the Voting Rights Act forward, rather than supporting it because he wants to, or because he believes it is right. The film shows Johnson as a man with strong opinions who puts his own…show more content…
Califano Jr., a former aide to Johnson who claims that Lyndon B. Johnson himself suggested the march on Selma, to more mild critiques on general portrayal, like those of a series of letters sent to the New York Times. While I do believe that some of the controversy following Selma has merit, many historians who specialize in Johnson believe the film’s portrayal of him is not entirely fair. It appears that the more educated one becomes in Johnson’s affairs, the more they defend Johnson in ‘Selma’. The claims of Joseph Califano, Mark Updergrove, and Alexander Harrington, all historians on Johnson, show this. Joseph A. Califano Jr., who acted as President Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969, holds Johnson in a highly regarded view. Califano claims the film grossly misinterprets Johnson’s involvement, and even claims that “Johnson was enthusiastic about voting rights,” and that “Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement.” Califano’s memory serves as a stark contrast against the rough and angered Johnson seen in ‘Selma’. Mark K. Updergrove, author and former director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, quotes King’s former lieutenant, Andrew Young, in saying that Johnson “didn’t have the power to introduce voting rights legislation in 1965,” which would explain Johnson’s apparent hesitation towards pushing the bill forward. Updergrove
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