Past Special Exhibition

The Fight for Civil Rights in the South

The Fight for Civil Rights in the South

February 19, 2020 - May 31, 2021

The Fight for Civil Rights in the South combines two prestigious photography exhibitions covering the African American struggle for civil rights and social equality in the 1960s – Selma to Montgomery: Photographs by Spider Martin and Courage Under Fire: The 1961 Burning of the Freedom Riders Bus.

In Selma to Montgomery, photographer James “Spider” Martin captures the iconic march to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, including the moment when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 2,000 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Martin’s photos brought attention to the Civil Rights Movement and documented this nonviolent action that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Courage Under Fire depicts a peaceful protest met with violence in Anniston, Alabama in 1961. Travelers known as Freedom Riders rode buses into the South to protest segregation on public transportation. On Sunday, May 14, 1961, riders nearly died when their bus was set on fire by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Photographer Joseph Postiglione brought national attention to the violent resistance to desegregation.

The Fight for Civil Rights in the South combines Selma to Montgomery: Photographs by Spider Martin and Courage Under Fire. They are curated and circulated by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), with contributions from the City of Birmingham and to BCRI’s Corporate Campaign.

Selma to Montgomery Marches, March 7-25, 1965

James “Spider” Martin was an American photographer known for his work documenting the American Civil Rights Movement in 1965. He was born in Fairfield, Alabama in 1939 and received the nickname “Spider” when a reporter described him as moving “like a spider” during a touchdown celebration at football game. While working as a photographer for The Birmingham News, Martin was assigned to cover the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson in February 1965. One month later, he created a notable photograph of the civil rights era entitled Two Minute Warning during the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement. His photograph showed Alabama state troopers about to attack the first peaceful Selma to Montgomery march with batons and tear gas. This incident would later be known as Bloody Sunday.The media coverage of Bloody Sunday catalyzed a national outcry and was influential in the progress of civil rights in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on the effect of photography on the Civil Rights Movement, particularly Martin’s: “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.”

Courage Under Fire: Anniston Bus Bombing, May 14, 1961

Joseph Postiglione was an American freelance photographer known for capturing the shocking and memorable photos of the Freedom Riders bus that was attacked and set on fire in Anniston, Alabama on Sunday, May 14, 1961.An aggressive and determined photographer, Postiglione took his camera and followed the mob that intercepted the Greyhound bus. He caught the Freedom Riders in the immediate aftermath, their clothes ashen, their faces distraught, and the flames and smoke from the bus in plain view. Standing at five feet tall, Postiglione made his name easier for readers to pronounce by crediting his photos as “Little Joe” in the captions for his pictures in The Anniston Star. The images made it to the front pages of newspapers around the world and brought international attention to the Civil Rights movement.

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Presented by
Supported by
Exhibition Sponsors

African American Forum | Minority Men Affinity Network
Employee Resource Groups at State Farm®

Hotel Sponsor


African American Museum of Dallas
Anti-Defamation League Texoma
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Congregation Anshai Torah
Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Denton Black Film Festival
Grant Halliburton Foundation
The Legacy Senior Communities
Refugee Services of Texas, Inc.
SMU Human Rights Program
Vickery Meadows Youth Development Foundation
World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth

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