Photographer of historic Selma March brings exhibit to South MS

Photographer of historic Selma March brings exhibit to South MS
The exhibit will run until March 23. (Photo source: WLOX News)
The exhibit will run until March 23. (Photo source: WLOX News)

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A civil rights lesson came to life Thursday afternoon as dozens of South Mississippi students had the opportunity to view a photo exhibit of the Selma March.

Images of faces filled with courage and determination told the story of the historic Selma March in 1965.

"Some of it was surprising because, like this picture, I've never seen that before; them using that for sunburn," said Pass Christian High Junior Dillon Whavers.

Whavers was referring to a picture of an African American boy whose face was covered in white cream.

"A lot of them, especially registering to vote, how we take advantage of it, and it was so important for these people to do that," said St. Patrick High Junior Morgan Badurak. "You can see the emotion on their faces."

Matt Herron, then a budding photojournalist, captured the dramatic pictures of the struggle for voting rights. Herron followed marchers from Selma to Montgomery, AL, walking backwards 50 miles while looking through his viewfinder.

Herron provided 30 prints from his collection of 27,000 civil rights photos to Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach.

"I'd like them to understand the kind of energy and commitment that was necessary to do this," said Herron. "The Selma March was the most important of the civil rights marches, and it led directly to a political change."

The march led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Herron shared his experience during the movement with students from three schools, explaining the stories behind each picture.

"What he was telling us, you could feel like what he kind of went through, his pain, everything he had to go through. And how brave he was, actually," said Pass Christian High Junior Tianna Williams.

It was a step back in time through Herron's camera lens.

"Most kids, including black kids, don't know very much about that history. I think it's important because it's the last time that a small group of people were able to create a significant, very large social change, in a fairly short period of time," said Herron. "It was one of those unique moments in history, and we were all very privileged to be a part of it."

The exhibit "I'm Walkin' for My Freedom: The Selma March and Voting Rights" opens to the public Friday night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m at the Gail Keenan Art Gallery at Coast Episcopal School on Espy Ave.

The show will run through March 23.

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