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.