A rare collection of photos of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama are now on display at the Providence Public Library.
On Wednesday the photographer, Steven Somerstein, will deliver a talk about his experience taking the photos, witnessing the march, and interacting with influential black leaders of the time including, Martin Luther King Jr, James Baldwin, and Rosa Parks.
Somerstein's more than 50 black and white photos of the iconic event have remained largely unseen. They were taken when the photographer just a college student, who went into a career in physics. Somerstein did not revisit the collection until his retirement in 2008.
The exhibit is hosted in partnership with Roger Williams University. The school’s president Donald Farish said the photographs offer a different perspective on the historic events, and iconic leaders.
“So while there are familiar images in a broad sense, from our history, the particular images are new,” said Farish. “So for the people old enough to remember the days of the march it is particularly unnerving; I am one of those people.”
Donald Farish said one image of Martin Luther King captured from behind, is especially poignant.
“It just sort of captures the idea that here is a man speaking from a flatbed trailer truck to a group of people who have rallied to his cry about marching in a non-violent way, expressing their rights as people,” said Farish. “It seems to me to capture the whole essence of that moment in one photograph.”
The exhibit is open to the public through February.
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