From Selma to Montgomery: The photos of Stephen Somerstein 50 years on

Photo Galleries

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addresses a crowd of marchers in 1965. Photo: Stephen Somerstein.

Photographer Stephen Somerstein was only a college student newspaper editor at the time he heard there was to be a march from Selma to Montgomery by African Americans protesting for voting rights. He grabbed his camera and jumped on the bus heading south to Alabama from New York.

Photographs: Stephen Somerstein. Music: “Little Wooden Church” by The Trumpeteers and licensed under the Public Domain.

It was March 25, 1965, and he snuck onstage to photograph Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the reverend addressed the 25,000 marchers at the end of their journey.

“I looked at the crowd and saw this huge array of 25,000 people listening to him in rapt attention. Then I turned around and looked at King, and I said, ‘I know the shot I want,'” Somerstein told the BBC, recalling the genesis of the now-icon photograph of the civil rights leader: a tight shot on King from directly behind; on the left and right, the sea of people listening.

To learn more about the 50th anniversary in Selma, CCTV America’s The Heat spoke with three people connected to the civil rights movement of the 60s and who still continue to be involved in civil rights. Click to watch it here.