“The body was chained and beaten, and now it was being liberated by going to forbidden places,’’ said Adelman, 82, of Miami Beach.
Volunteering with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Adelman spent years documenting the struggle in the segregated Deep South and racially tense Northern cities.
His pictures ran in all the major news magazines and in numerous books, the latest just released by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King once led: I Have A Dream: A 50th Year Testament to the March that Changed America.
The New York-born son of liberal Eastern European immigrants, Adelman says he was “very idealistic, and a lifelong Democratic Socialist.’’
He was close enough to King call him “Doc.’’
On Aug. 28, 1963, the body of the movement placed itself in the heart of a nation that denied equality to millions of its citizens. Adelman went to Washington “to catch my heroes and the spirit of the movement and the mood ... I had one eye on events and another on history.’’
It would never have happened without that spring’s direct-action campaign in Birmingham, Ala., Adelman said.
“The country was totally frozen. Congress was dominated by Dixiecrats. The court had spoken, to little effect. No president had yet said that segregation was wrong.’’
But President John F. Kennedy saw the shocking images of young demonstrators under attack, “and announced he would (propose) legislation. So for us it was both a celebration that race and the end of segregation were on the agenda, and a protest because it was far from clear that Congress was going to pass the legislation.’’
Adelman, who photographed police blasting demonstrators with fire hoses, said “Doc’’ told photographers not to rescue but to shoot.
“He said, ‘We need the pictures,’ because it was the photographs and movies that showed what segregation meant.’’
That day on the mall, Adelman stayed close to the podium, where he caught King in a variety of expressions.
“Most people don’t appreciate what he went through,’’ Adelman said. “He was jailed 31 times. He traveled 26 million miles, most of it to raise money and give speeches. He was stabbed, bombed, beaten up.
“People were always attacking him and he would reason with them. He went through agony, in a religious sense.’’
King, he said, “was our moral leader and wiser than all of us. A truly enlightened human being.’’
CAROLE ANN TAYLOR
Carole Ann Taylor and her sister, Priscilla Taylor, were teenagers when their parents took them to the march. They lived in the New York City suburbs. Their father, The Rev. Carl Taylor, preached at a Baptist church in Harlem and mother Harriet “Toni Belle’’ Taylor was a community activist.
Carole Ann Taylor attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, the oldest private African-American university in the country. She was 19 in 1963, one year older than her sister.
As with many young people, Taylor left the march determined to make a difference. Back at school, “we ended up having to picket ... because they would not cut black students’ hair in the barbershops,’’ she said.