The Heat on U.S. Civil Rights history: The march from Selma to Montgomery

The Heat

This weekend thousands of people, including U.S. President Barack Obama will gather in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7th, 1965, Reverend Hosea Williams and now U.S. Congressman John Lewis led a group of 600 marchers toward Montgomery. The group was turned back by Alabama State Troopers who beat them and used tear gas on the crowd. Weeks later, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior set off again with thousands of marchers and successfully made the 86-kilometer journey from Selma to Montgomery. The demonstrations eventually resulted in the Voting Rights Act, legislation signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson that outlaws racial discrimination in voting.

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:

  • Dorie Ladner, a civil rights activist and Selma participant.
  • Stephen Somerstein, a documentary photographer . He traveled with students from New York to photograph the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Avis Jones-Deweever, president of the D.C.-based consulting firm, ‘Incite Unlimited’ and is the former executive director of the National Council of Negro Women.
The Heat on U.S. Civil Rights history: The march from Selma to Montgomery 1

The Heat on U.S. Civil Rights history: The march from Selma to Montgomery 1

This weekend thousands of people, including U.S. President Barack Obama will gather in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7th, 1965, Reverend Hosea Williams and now U.S. Congressman John Lewis led a group of 600 marchers toward Montgomery.

The discussion continued.

The Heat on U.S. Civil Rights history: The march from Selma to Montgomery 2

The Heat on U.S. Civil Rights history: The march from Selma to Montgomery 2

This weekend thousands of people, including U.S. President Barack Obama will gather in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7th, 1965, Reverend Hosea Williams and now U.S. Congressman John Lewis led a group of 600 marchers toward Montgomery.


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

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.

The year was 1965, and he snuck onstage to photograph Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the reverend addressed the 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.