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Unknown Photographer

The ashes of slain Civil Rights advocate Reverend James Reeb were flown to his boyhood home in Casper, Wyoming, March 1965
Vintage wire photograph on paper
6 9/16 x 2 3/8 in. (16.67 x 6.03 cm)

Creation Place: North America
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted gift of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg in honor of Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Accession Number: P2021.13.319

The ashes of slain Civil Rights advocate Reverend James Reeb were flown to his boyhood home in Casper, Wyoming, and his widow returned to her four children in Boston. President Johnson sent a government jet to pick up the 36-year-old widow. She departed Friday afternoon to rejoin her family. She left them on Wednesday to keep a vigil at her husband's bedside. Rev. Reeb, 38, died Thursday night from the clubbing he suffered in Selma after a racial demonstration on Tuesday. Four white men have been arrested, Birmingham, Alabama.

James Reeb (1927-1965) was an American Unitarian Universalist minister, pastor, and activist during the Civil Rights Movement in Washington DC and Boston. While participating in the Selma to Montgomery Marches in Selma, Alabama in 1965, he was murdered by white segregationists. He died of head injuries in the hospital two days after being severely beaten. Reeb's death provoked mourning throughout the country, and tens of thousands held vigils in his honor. President Lyndon B. Johnson called Reeb's widow and father to express his condolences. The President invoked Reeb's memory when he delivered a draft of the Voting Rights Act to Congress on March 15. The same day, Martin Luther King eulogized Reeb at a ceremony at Brown's Chapel in Selma: "James Reeb symbolizes the forces of good will in our nation. He demonstrated the conscience of the nation. He was an attorney for the defense of the innocent in the court of world opinion. He was a witness to the truth that men of different races and classes might live, eat, and work together as brothers."

On verso: manuscript date, Associated Press stamp and newspaper captions affixed.

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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  • Overall Dimensions: 6 9/16 x 2 3/8 in. (16.67 x 6.03 cm) Measured by Hudson, Karen

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