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Guide to the Stephen Somerstein Photographs of the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery
 PR 314

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Marybeth Kavanagh

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 07, 2016

Biographical /Historical Note

Stephen Somerstein was a student at City College of New York and picture editor of the student newspaper when he traveled to Alabama in March 1965 to document the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery.

From March 21 to March 25, 1965, civil rights protesters marched from Selma to the state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama to demonstrate against the violent resistance that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and other groups had encountered in their efforts to register African-American voters. On March 25, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the crowd of approximately 25,000 supporters from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. Three months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

After graduating from college, Somerstein did not pursue photography as a career. Instead, he became a physicist and worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and at the Lockheed Martin Company. After retiring in 2008, he decided to return to photography. A selection of these photographs were the basis of an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein, which was on view from January 16, 2015-October 25, 2015.