Lecture explores role of photojournalism

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, February 12, 2015

By Tyra Jackson

The Selma Times-Journal

Selma ArtsRevive hosted “The Spider Martin Retrospective: Exploring the Role of Photojournalism in Influencing History” humanities lecture Thursday night.

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Approximately 45 people filled the Carneal Building, which is currently housing an exhibit of Spider Martin’s photos from Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery march.

The discussion featured panelists, Dr. Howard Robinson of Alabama State University, Donald Brown of the University of Alabama and Dr. Larry Spruill of Morehouse College.

Martin and his powerful photos hanging all around were mentioned often.

Brown took time out to reflect on the times he worked with Martin in the 1960s, and saw him in action as the two worked for The Birmingham News.

“Spider is with us in this room,” he said. “Spider had guts. He was single-minded and determined.”

Robinson spoke of the Alabama project and its founder James Bevel. After the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Bevel initiated the Alabama Voting Rights Project.

Audience members asked panelists questions like the importance of black and white images versus color images.

“I think the power of black and white photography was unchallenged at the time,” Spruill said.

The panelists even had conversations with each other during the lecture and spoke about how civil rights leaders and even their opponents used media to convey messages.

Spruill said Dr. King needed a way to convey his message of peace.

“He understood he had to have optics for his words. He needed something to say, ‘this is why we can’t wait,’” Spruill said.