The new movie Selma has focused attention on the non-violent but bloody battle by Martin Luther King, Jr., and other activists as they tried to get a Voting Rights Act passed by Congress. Was President Lyndon Johnson one of their obstacles?
The Great Society is an unprecedented package of legislation that protected the rights of African-Americans and strengthened the social safety net. The bills were passed by Congress, but they're a major part of President Lyndon Johnson's legacy. Historians disagree, though, about the role he played and how he really felt about one component: the Voting Rights Act. Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer is the author of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society. We speak with the presidential scholar about Johnson's legacy.