Alfred M. Loeb was a dedicated and skilled photographer interested in justice. More than a half-century ago he participated in the legendary march from Selma to Montgomery, taking pictures all the way. His daughter, my friend Judith Loeb Whitaker, shared the photos, which I think are not nearly as widely published as they deserve. They move me, particularly today. She kindly gave me permission to post a few.
Within living memory it took great physical bravery and fortitude to march on public roads for the proposition that human beings in America should be treated equally. We cannot afford to assume complacently that we are forever past that time. America remains divided by some of the same questions, asked only somewhat differently. What does it mean to be equal? How should we treat dissent? Is it demanding rights that divides America, or denying them?
People braver than we are risked their lives in answering those questions. The least we can do is speak our minds about them.
All copyrights retained by Mr. Loeb's family.
Edited to add: Judith kindly supplemented this by offering a photo from Ebony Magazine circa 1965 (copyright to them) showing her father at the march — he's right ahead of the priest — and some of her late mother's memories, which I've excerpted below.
Here are some of my Selma memories.
. . .
Only some of the people who showed up were allowed to join the march from beginning to end and Al was one of them. He was so happy about this as it ended up being a great experience. The restriction on the number of people was due to the limits on how many people could be accommodated on the march, as the march was to take several days with the participants sleeping in tents in the fields and with food being provided. I believe the march was 50 miles long (30 miles?) and took five days.
Al took many photographs, including some of MLK and his group of leaders, but most of ordinary people.
. . .
One experience Al had: Each night he would manage to find a phone so he could call home and talk to his wife and children. There were no cell phones in those days, no Internet, etc. One night Al was able to use a phone in a farm family’s house. The family was so touched by Al’s conversation with his children that they invited him for dinner; it was a very good dinner with some very nice people.
. . .
The march was extremely well-organized in that a place to sleep and enough food were provided, plus medical help for those in need of such. No one complained.
The people who were in the march felt very good about being able to do this and enjoyed themselves (in spite of worn feet) and were warm and friendly to each other and there was a lot of singing and expressions of joy.
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