Spider Martin

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James "Spider" Martin
Spider Martin.jpg
Born (1939-04-01)April 1, 1939
Fairfield, Alabama
Died April 8, 2003(2003-04-08) (aged 64)
Nationality American
Occupation Photographer
Known for Two Minute Warning

James "Spider" Martin (April 1, 1939 – April 8, 2003) was an American photographer known for his work documenting the American Civil Rights Movement in 1965, specifically Bloody Sunday and other incidents from the Selma to Montgomery marches.[1][2]


Martin was born in Fairfield, Alabama. Whilst working as a photographer for The Birmingham News[3] he created a notable photograph of the civil rights era, known as Two Minute Warning, during the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement.[4] His photograph showed Alabama state troopers about to attack the first peaceful Selma to Montgomery march with batons and tear gas whilst it attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on 7 March 1965.[5] Hosea Williams and John Lewis were leading the 54 mile march to the Alabama State Capitol in protest at unfair treatment of African Americans and discriminatory voting rights practices.[2] The incident, known as Bloody Sunday, the media coverage of it and the national outcry that ensued, were influential in the course of civil rights in the U.S. Speaking about the effect of photography on the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Spider, we could have marched, we could have protested forever, but if it weren't for guys like you, it would have been for nothing. The whole world saw your pictures. That's why the Voting Rights Act was passed."[6][7]

His photographs were published in Life,[citation needed] Saturday Evening Post,[citation needed] Time,[citation needed] Der Spiegel,[citation needed] Stern,[citation needed] Paris Match,[citation needed] Birmingham Weekly[8] and The Birmingham News[2]

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin acquired Martin’s archive of negatives, correspondence, memos, clippings, and other material in 2015 for $250,000.[2][4][9]

He died[4] by suicide on April 8, 2003[10] in Blount Springs, Alabama.[citation needed]




Martin’s photographs are held in the following permanent collections:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yeager, Andrew (6 March 2015). "Photographer Helped Expose Brutality Of Selma's 'Bloody Sunday'". NPR. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Schuessler, Jennifer (15 February 2015). "Spider Martin's Photographs of the Selma March Get a Broader View". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Abbott, Valerie A. (2003-05-06). "Resolution # 684-03" (PDF). Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Birmingham. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 24, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-spider-martin-photographer-selma-bloody-sunday-20150308-story.html
  5. ^ https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/eyewitness/html.php?section=2
  6. ^ "Selma to Montgomery: A March for the Right to Vote". The Spider Martin Civil Rights Collection. Retrieved 2006-01-04. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/local/selma50/2015/03/01/spider-martins-work-helped-shape-american-history/24214445/
  8. ^ "Moving pictures - The work of Spider Martin", Birmingham Weekly
  9. ^ a b http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/03424/cah-03424.html
  10. ^ Glynn Wilson, "Birmingham News Glosses over Its Racist Past", The Locust Fork News-Journal, February 26, 2006.
  11. ^ http://artsrevive.com/archives/spider-martin-retrospective/
  12. ^ http://www.lbjlibrary.org/press/march-to-freedom-exhibit-to-open-in-february
  13. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2984806/Moving-vintage-photographs-capture-tension-tenderness-violence-Bloody-Sunday-marches-Selma-50-years-ago.html
  14. ^ http://www.timeout.com/newyork/music/see-powerful-photos-of-the-1965-selma-march
  15. ^ http://www.southalabama.edu/org/archaeology/museum/spidermartin.html
  16. ^ http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org/exhibits/selma-to-montgomery-the-march-for-the-right-to-vote
  17. ^ http://knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2014/10/9/selma-to-montgomery-as-captured-by-spider-martin/
  18. ^ http://www.bcri.org/exhibitions/selmatomongomery.html
  19. ^ http://nmaahc.si.edu/content/pdf/Newsroom/double_exposure_release_021215.pdf

External links[edit]