Marching along the voting rights trail


July 5th, 2012

Omaha, NE – An exhibit documenting one of the most famous marches in history is now on display at the Love’s Jazz and Arts Center in North Omaha.

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The photo of a boy with “Vote” whitewashed onto his head is now on display as part of the “Selma to Montgomery: Marching Along the Voting Rights Trail” (Photo by Stephen Somerstein/Courtesy Love’s Jazz)

A collection of over 50 photographs, the Selma to Montgomery exhibit includes black and white images of men, women and children some holding the American flag and signs that read “Vote for Freedom.”

Tim Clark, executive director of the Love’s Jazz and Arts Center, said the exhibit “sheds light on the significance of voting, the importance and the struggle.” It also shows the “struggle of what it really took to get us to where we’re at today,” he said.

Stephen Somerstein, the photographer of the collection, was the editor-in-chief of the City College of New York newspaper. In the 1960s, he went to Alabama to document a five-day, 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, one of the most significant marches in the nonviolent movement for voting rights.

The exhibit also includes four voting booths with photocopied election ballots from the 1960s. Clark said he hopes the exhibit encourages voter participation in the upcoming general elections. “We have a very important election that’s going to take place in our community,” Clark said, referring to the hotly-contested race between State Sen. Brenda Council and her predecessor Ernie Chambers for the District 11 seat in the Nebraska Legislature.

“We’re very excited,” Clark said. “I think we’re going to probably have one of the largest (voter) turnout ever because people are going to be so interested in this election.”

Selma to Montgomery: Marching Along the Voting Trail is on display through August 25th at the Love’s Jazz and Arts Center in north Omaha.

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