"A Paper for the People": The Jim Peppler Southern Courier Photograph Collection

July 26, 2016 – December 2017
Milo B. Howard Auditorium and First Floor Corridor

This temporary exhibit featured 51 black-and-white photographs by James H. (Jim) Peppler, a photojournalist who worked for the Southern Courier in the 1960s. While representing only a small portion of Peppler’s entire collection, the images on display provided a compelling look back at events of the Civil Rights Movement, at local concerts by music legends including James Brown and the Marvelettes, and at daily life in Montgomery’s neighborhoods during a decade of tremendous change and transition.

From July 1965 to December 1968, the Southern Courier newspaper served Montgomery’s African American community by covering topics from the Civil Rights Movement to music and social events to everyday life. The Courier published hard news, but it also gave readers a platform for sharing their views and experiences. Key to this representation were the images in each issue, and no one contributed more to that visual record than Jim Peppler, who served as principal photographer and photo editor for three years.

A native of Philadelphia, Peppler arrived in Montgomery just after graduating from college in 1965. His work at the Courier ran the full journalistic spectrum: from individuals and events of national renown, to grassroots civil rights efforts, to local domestic and social life. He handled assignments fairly and objectively, but always with compassion and a genuine interest in the people he met. By the time he left Montgomery for a position at Newsday in 1968, he had honed the style that would characterize his entire career.

In 2009, Peppler donated 11,000 negatives from his time at the Courier to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Over the next three years, all of the negatives were digitized and made available to the public in the Archives’ digital collections.

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