Spider Martin Retrospective

ArtsRevive is pleased to present the Spider Martin Retrospective:  Exploring the Role of Photojournalism in Influencing History from February 7 – March 28, 2015.  This special exhibition of Spider Martin’s work had a Grand Opening on Saturday, February 7 with an introduction by Frye Gaillard Laura Anderson, Archivist for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and introducing Tracy Martin, Spider Martin’s daughter.  There is also a local exhibit honoring Roswell Falkenberry and his work at the Selma Times-Journal presented by the Selma Times-Journal and Boone Publishing.

Open to the Public
Every Friday-Saturday through March 28 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Daily March 2-14, 2015 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
By appointment Call 334-878-2787

Panel Discussion: The Importance of the Still Photo to the Voting Rights Movement
Thursday, February 12, 2015 from 7:00-8:30 PM
Moderator: Dr. Howard Robinson, Archivist, Alabama State University
Donald Brown, Journalist, former Editor of the Tuscaloosa News and the Florence Times-Daily; teaches Journalism, University of Alabama
Dr. Larry Spruill, assistant professor Morehouse College; Southern Exposure: Photojournalism and the Civil Rights Movement

Panel Discussion: A Look at the Movement from Differing Perspectives
Thursday, February 19, 2015 from 7:00-8:30 PM
Moderator: Dr. Maurice Hobson, assistant professor Georgia State University
Dr. Billie Jean Young, author and playwright: Jimmie Lee; MacArthur Award winner; artist in residence, Judson College
Howell Raines, journalist and author; former editor New York Times; Pulitzer Prize winner; My Soul is Rested
Frye Gaillard, author and journalist; Writer in Residence at the University of South Alabama; Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America
All events: ArtsRevive Carneal Building—3 Church Street—Selma, Alabama

Call 334-878-ARTS(2787) or email info@artsrevive.com for more information.  The Spider Martin Retrospective and Lecture Series is funded in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts; the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Selma Times Journal and contributors to ArtsRevive.

James “Spider” Martin (April 1, 1939 – April 8, 2003) was an American photographer known for his work documenting the American Civil Rights Movement in 1965, specifically Bloody Sunday (1965) and the Selma to Montgomery March.  A native Alabaman, born in Fairfield and raised in Hueytown, he was the youngest freelance photographer from The Birmingham News when he was sent to cover the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

SM BloodySunday_24 BoyntonUnder the leadership of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a march from Selma to Montgomery was planned to protest  Jackson’s death and the larger issue of voting rights for African-Americans throughout the South.  As protest organizers began planning their historic march, Spider Martin began his own journey both professional and personal, during which he compiled what is likely the largest single photographic collection of the Civil Rights era.

Over the next several weeks Spider remained in the area, chronicling the day-to-day events of the Selma campaign, from church rallies and strategy sessions to the marches themselves. He was best known for his civil rights photography, including the March 1965 beating of marchers in Selma, Alabama. That event, known as “Bloody Sunday,” influenced LBJ’s signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which added thousands of Southern blacks to the voting rolls.

Spider Martin glassesHubert Grisson, Jr. said, “Often the target of violence himself, Spider stayed on the scene when he could have asked for relief.  In fact, he argued with the editors at The Birmingham News who wanted to pull him out of Selma.  Beyond the job itself, something happened to this young photographer who once had solemn chills when he heard “Dixie” played before a football game.  Those same chills were transferred to a real battle field for human rights, and there arose in Spider a rage for the atrocities committed by his fellow Alabamians against his fellow Alabamians.

Spider fought back with his cameras, and photographs that didn’t lie. They appeared in national and international publications and were seen around the world.  Dr. King himself credited them with playing a major role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  His perseverance earned him the respect and admiration of local and national civil rights leaders.  John Lewis, in particular, became and remained a close friend.”

SM 18+(7)In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his gratitude, “Spider, we could have marched, we could have protested forever, but if it weren’t for guys like you, it would have been for nothing.  The whole world saw your pictures. That’s why the Voting Rights Act passed.”

You will want to come to Selma during the 50th anniversary to view Spider Martin’s work and take a walk through history through his perceptive eyes.  The Spider Martin Retrospective will be at the Carneal Building, 3 Church Street, Selma, AL from February 7 until March 28.