What Aspects of the March are Covered in “Selma”? How Accurate Is It?

One should be careful in evaluating a film based on how much of it is fabricated. There is no general guideline to follow as the impact of straying from the historical record varies on a case-by-case basis.

Much of the film has been hailed for its accuracy. The film’s historic march actually passed by director Ava DuVernay’s father’s farm in his hometown in Lowndes County, which she often visited with her family. DuVernay said she drew on her lifelong memories for the film’s depiction of that region.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s estate actually has legal ownership of his speeches, and the film was unable to license any of them due to its limited budget. DuVernay had to write new speeches that did not infringe on any copyright. Many have praised her efforts, noting that her speeches make fewer religious references than King but shore up the connection between his work and the current state of race relations while maintaining his tone and general vernacular.

The film’s most significant departure from the historical record is the depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson, which is detailed elsewhere.