SMU Graduate Shares Never Published Photos of March 25, 1965 Selma-To-Montgomery March

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tags: Selma, Selma March



When Southern Methodist University student Loy Williams hurriedly packed his bag before climbing aboard a bus bound to join civil rights protesters in Montgomery, Ala., he grabbed his Argus C3 camera. Long hours later, he loaded the sturdy camera with Kodachrome film and began snapping photos as he joined 25,000 others marching to the Alabama capitol. 

As the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march arrival in Montgomery approaches, Williams has made his photos available.
 
The 22 images have never been published, says Williams, now a retired pastor living near Chicago in Geneva, Illinois. And he still has the Argus C3, a hand-me-down from his father.
 
High-res images of March 25, 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march: http://www.smu.edu/News/NewsIssues/Civil-Rights-Pilgrimage/Loy-Williams-Photos-1965, Photos by Loy Williams
 
Williams captured images of marchers in overcoats gathering on the overcast day and African-American children dressed in their Sunday best, waving as marchers passed their house on an unpaved road. As Williams approached the Montgomery business district he photographed the angry faces of bystanders in front of the Trustees Loan & Guarantee Company and the Exchange Lounge.
 
A student at SMU's Perkins School of Theology in 1965, Williams helped organize SMU protestors after receiving a telegram from Martin Luther King, Jr., urging him to join the third (and ultimately successful) Selma-to-Montgomery march. Students raised nearly $1,700 overnight to charter a bus and pay for traveling expenses to Selma for students traveling by bus and car. Fifty SMU students and faculty members traveled overnight to join the marchers in Montgomery March 25.
 
Williams had not told his parents he was treasurer of SMU’s Selma travel fund and did not tell them he was making the dangerous journey to Alabama to participate in the protest. However, he asked his sister, Ruth, an SMU undergraduate, to stay home.
 
"I didn't want to take the chance my parents would lose both of us," he said.
 
The SMU protestors joined a staging area in Montgomery, where they were serenaded by folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary as they waited to join the marchers.
 
"We didn't know what would happen when we reached the capitol," Williams says. "We were singing the civil rights song, 'I Am Not Afraid,' but, yes, I was afraid."
 
Williams snapped photographs when he reached the Alabama statehouse, capturing Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to the crowd from a flatbed sound truck. When the speeches ended peacefully, the SMU marchers re-boarded the bus to return to Dallas, opening box lunches ordered in advance from the bus company. But their lunches delivered an ugly message: The cardboard boxes were filled with garbage.
 
As students listened to pocket-sized transistor radios on the bus, they learned of the Klu Klux Klan murder of civil rights activist, Viola Liuzzo, as she drove marchers back to Selma.
 
"We were on high alert until we crossed the Alabama state line," Williams says.
 
For more information about the 1965 SMU students who marched in Montgomery and the 2015 students who visited Montgomery last week as part of a civil rights pilgrimage, visit http://www.smu.edu/News/NewsIssues/Civil-Rights-Pilgrimage
 
SMU is a private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.
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