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Selma 1965

Selma 1965
The Photographs of Spider Martin

As raw and unforgettable as the moment they were taken, these iconic images—never before published as a collection—document the historic Selma-to-Montgomery marches that turned the tide for African American voting rights.

Series: Focus on American History

November 2015
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128 pages | 9.5 x 9.5 | 80 duotone photos |

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“Spider Martin, more than any other photographer of our time, has used his camera to document the struggle for civil rights and social change in the State of Alabama. . . . In viewing Spider’s collection, one is literally walking through the pages of American history.”
—John Lewis, 1996

“It is largely because of [Martin’s] talent that we, as a people and a nation, so vividly remember ‘Bloody Sunday.’ Although violence broke out at many other places, and on many other days, the images from this critical day are forever emblazoned in the public consciousness.”
—Andrew Young, 1992

On March 7, 1965, six hundred people led by John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, set out to march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery to demand the right to vote. The march ended violently on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, as Alabama state troopers beat and gassed the unresisting marchers. But images of “Bloody Sunday” seared the national conscience and helped galvanize the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Spider Martin captured many indelible images of Bloody Sunday as a photojournalist for the Birmingham News. His photographs of the Selma marches and the civil rights struggle were seen all over the world, appearing in such publications as Time, Life, Der Spiegel, Stern, the Saturday Evening Post, and Paris Match. Drawn from Martin’s archive at the Briscoe Center for American History, this book gathers several dozen of the most powerful and poignant images, many of which have never been published, for the first time in a single volume. A lasting testament to the courage of the civil rights generation, they also reveal a rookie photographer’s determination to bear witness to a movement that transformed the American nation.

  • Preface, by Don Carleton
  • Selma: Fifty Years Later, by Douglas Brinkley
  • Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965
  • Turnaround Tuesday, March 9, 1965
  • Waiting to March, 10–18, 1965
  • Selma to Montgomery, March 21–25, 1965

James “Spider” Martin (1939–2003) created the most comprehensive visual documentation of the March 1965 events in Selma, one of the most significant moments in the civil rights era. During the three years he worked for the Birmingham News, his photographs won numerous awards, including Associated Press awards for Best Feature Photograph, Best Sports Photograph, and Best News Photograph. He spent the remainder of his career working as a full-time freelance photographer for advertising and corporate clients nationwide.