Client Spotlight

3.20.15

Somerstein Photos Capture the Spirit of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March

Stephen Somerstein, an OWE client, currently has a major show “Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein,” at the New-York Historical Society.

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According to a recent feature article in the New York Times, “Almost 50 years ago, the Managing and Picture editor of the campus newspaper, MAIN EVENTS, at the City College of New York, assigned himself a breaking story: coverage of what promised to be a massive, violence-threatened march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to demand free-and-clear voting rights for African-Americans. On short notice, the editor, Stephen Somerstein, grabbed five cameras, climbed on a bus and headed south.”  (A Long March into History, New York Times, January 15, 2015)

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OWE’s Linda Joy Kattwinkel, with co-counsel Robert E. Gordon, helped Mr. Somerstein negotiate usage of his photography for the Academy Award-nominated film “Selma.” Somerstein’s iconic photograph of Martin Luther King provided inspiration for the Selma film’s powerful poster image, and Somerstein’s photos will be included as bonus features in the upcoming DVD.  At Elton John’s Oscars after-party, a special large print of Stephen’s photo of Martin Luther King sold for $225,000. Proceeds benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “Stephen’s photos chronicle a significant turning point in American history,” said Linda Joy, “and we’re proud to provide legal support for such an important project.”

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“Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein” runs through June 8th at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West; 212- 873-3400; nyhistory.org. A video of Somerstein’s Selma photography won a 2014 New York Emmy Award. 

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 4, 2015, Photographer Remembers Selma-Montgomery March, includes an interview with Stephen and links to a number of photos.  A selection of the photos are being exhibited at San Francisco’s Modernism Gallery until April 25.