Stephen Somerstein was a 24-year-old student at the City College of New York’s night school and picture editor of the student newspaper when he photographed some of the most iconic images of the civil rights movement. With his five cameras in tow, he traveled by bus to Alabama in 1965 to document the Selma to Montgomery March, gaining unfettered access to everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, and Bayard Rustin.

Over the five-day, 54-mile march, Somerstein took about 400 photographs, including poignant images of hopeful Black Americans as they cheered on the marchers walking past their front porches and white citizens crowded on sidewalks, looking on silently or jeering. His photographs were featured in New-York Historical’s 2015 exhibition Freedom Journey 1965, which is now traveling and is about to open at the Connecticut Historical Society on January 28. Click through a selection of the photographs below.

  • Civil rights marchers with large American flag on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen Somerstein/Getty Images)
  • Rosa Parks speaking at conclusion of the March on March 25, 1965 (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Two young men on the March (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Author James Baldwin; Selma March strategist Bayard Rustin; March on Washington founder A. Philip Randolph (with hat) on March 25, 1965 (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 in front of the Montgomery state capital building on March 25, 1965 (Photo by Stephen Somerstein)
  • ![](https://behindthescenes.nyhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/SOMERSTEINFR8120MMFINAL196566-002-8HeidBooksize-scaled-700x500.jpg ""Things Go Better With Coke", Negro, multi-generational family watching marchers, with Coke sign in background. On Route 80, Jefferson Davis Highway - Selma To Montgomery, Alabama Civil Rights March, March 23-25, 1965")A multi-generational family watching marchers on Route 80, Jefferson Davis Highway (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • (From left) Rev. Arthur Matott Perth Amboy, NJ; John Lewis, Head of SNCC; Andrew Young; Sister Mary Leoline, Kansas City, MO; San Francisco Theological Seminary president, Dr. Theodore Gill (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Mothers and children watching the Selma marchers (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Families watching the Selma marchers (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Men and women watching the marchers from a porch (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Marchers walk past a house on March 25, 1965 (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Boys holding American flags on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in front of the Montgomery state capital building (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • White hecklers yelling at marchers (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Folk singer Joan Baez in Montgomery (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to civil rights marchers at end of Selma to Montgomery March, March 25, 1965 (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein)

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