An Artistic Visualization of Christ’s Passage Through the Stations of the Cross as Viewed Through the Lens of 1965 Selma

Christian ritual, contemporary photography and the fight for equality.

By Hallie M. Frazer

Director of the Theatre of the Sacred Soul, All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley, CA, September 2015



The ritual of Christ’s passage along the Via Dolorosa is remembered and celebrated every year in Catholic and a growing number of Protestant churches through the devotions of the Stations of the Cross. Literally translated as “the Way of Dolor”, the intricacies of the language includes the emotional grief as well as the physical. The extent of one’s suffering, therefore, is felt in the most profound way, involving not only the Christ, who is at the center of the pain, but the community who becomes part of that experience vicariously. Through that experience, all are lost and all are saved.

All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, California, marked the 2015 Lenten Season and the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, through a visual ritualization of Christ’s passage to the Cross as experienced through the lens of 1965 Selma. The concept was mine, drawing heavily upon my personal experience growing up during the race riots of the late 1960’s/early 1970’s in New York and the transformative impact this had upon Bellport High School and the community of Brookhaven Township, New York. (Puleston, B., Jackson, L., 2003).

My aim was to compile historic photographs of leaders of the Movement in Selma and couple them with quotes, using this as a corollary between 1965 and today; to present in stark reality, the modernity of Christ’s suffering and yet, the victory that was won through persistence, bravery and multicultural unification. I saw this conceptually as a theatre of Life marked by suffering, death and rebirth through solidarity and renewed understanding.

After presenting my idea to the Arts Committee at All Souls, a multicultural subcommittee of artists and people of color was formed for this purpose. The result was a transformative portal where 3 worlds met: Selma 1965, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the our world of today. I invite you to visit the display on the All Souls Episcopal Parish website, including the Supplementary Documents which accompany the display.


Keywords: Stations of the Cross, Selma 1965, All Souls Episcopal, Lenten Season.



Devotions honoring Christ’s passage to the Cross can be traced back to the 4th Century, with the erection by Constantine, of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Puet, T., 2009). There are 2 major versions of the Stations of the Cross used today, the first being the Traditional one (Wilson, R. F., 1985/2015), and the other being a 1991 Scriptural version initiated by Pope John Paul II, taken from the scripture (USCCB, 2015.). In contrast to the Traditional, which focuses on the emotional passage from Gethsemane to the tomb, the Scriptural version is more iconographic, following the scriptures exclusively.

Since 2007, artists from All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, California have created Stations displays from their perspectives, of the universal need for healing the brokenness in our world through love. I realized towards the end of 2014, that this coming year marked the 50th anniversary of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. After informal discussions with Rector Philip Brochard and The Rev. Horace Griffin, an African Professor at the Pacific School of Religion and a member of our Ministerial Staff, I approached the Arts at All Souls Committee with a proposal to create a 2015 Stations of the Cross Display as viewed through the lens of Selma.

As I began to research that historic period in time, viewing it in relation to dates by which the display needed to be ready, I noticed that, along with marking the 50th anniversary of the year, several landmark dates stood out as coinciding with the upcoming Lenten season. – February 18, 2015, Ash Wednesday, was itself the 50th anniversary of the day that Jimmie Lee Jackson, a Baptist deacon, was shot following a peaceful demonstration in Marion, Alabama. He died 8 days later in a Selma hospital, prompting the decision of activists to march from Selma to Montgomery. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season, culminates in the crucifixion of Christ. And in fact, important dates along the way, marked important moments within that cycle of time that led to the March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Burning Cross


BURNING CROSS (one of images from Stations of the Cross Display) Station 10, “Christ is Crucified”

In preparation for my proposal, I researched the lives of several of the early players in the Movement, looking for quotes. What I found were astounding pictures. One in particular gripped me: an image of Ku Klux Klan members in a circle with a huge burning cross in the center. I was immediately struck with the epiphany that this was what Christ went through; this was the sacrifice that he made and these are the stakes we encounter in this world when we, as Christians, tithe ourselves to loving our neighbor as part of the ritual of purification that leads to higher self and salvation. 

After presenting a series of images, which to me, represented a draft of a proposed display, the Committee immediately approved the project. They became so invested, that it became a collaborative creation.

As an exclusively White Arts Committee membership, it was clear to all of us that we needed the participation of the African American voice, especially after I presented the Klan image as being the centerpiece of the display, to many gasps of dismay about the ‘inappropriateness’ of something so stark and potentially offensive to people of color.

The Rev. Horace Griffin was at the time on sabbatical; however, he agreed to provide feedback via email. Our discussions were invaluable in streamlining goals and achieving consensus regarding our direction. Not only had Rev. Griffin grown up in the deep South during the Civil Rights era, both of his parents were pastors of 2 different but equally vibrant Southern Black churches. He observed,

I think that Selma (like the Gospel) moves us from a sheltered place of tranquility to confront the evil/oppression in our world. The Gospel of our Christian faith calls us to never make peace with oppression and troubles us so that we may be transformed. By opposing the sin of racism and the devaluing of black lives, whether it is Selma fifty years ago or today with Tamir Rice (Cleveland), we have the opportunity to be transformed and move toward resurrection. As the Triduum reminds us, we cannot get to Resurrection without facing the pain and suffering of fear, anxiety, death expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the long walk to Calvary, Jesus’ Crucifixion and his death. Too often we want to turn away from the evil that has been done (sometimes on our behalf) to others by our lost sisters and brothers. We must all answer to what we did in this life to Jesus by what we did to the least of these. (personal correspondence, 2015).

Three parishioners who grew up during that era, also stepped forward to join our sub-committee, all three from different walks of life: Gloria Fleming, herself from the South, a former singer who had lived in Sweden and traveled around the world; Gloria Bayne, the wife of the late Rev. Henry Bayne of St. Marks and All Souls Berkeley; and Marsha Thomas-Thompson, who had grown up within the “Boston Black” community. Hearing their stories of growing up in that era was truly humbling and a great learning experience. They served as a testament to life as African American women within their own African American community during this pivotal era, and thus were able to share their experiences of how the world they shared with others related to them.

The Visioning

The first challenge (other than getting consensus on using the Klan picture), was working with the version of the Stations of the Cross that had become the standard version used by All Souls. This “Scriptural” version, inaugurated by Pope St. John Paul II on Good Friday 1991, contained a series of 14 iconic images depicting moments in time drawn specifically from accounts from the 4 major gospels. Unlike the Traditional version, the Scriptural does not follow a connected storyline. My challenge would be to push for images that both represented a period and established an arc that would move the flow of understanding forward into the light of hope.

Our Chair, Michele Barger of SFMoMA, channeled our focus by asking that we come up with word associations which would describe the dramatic content of each Station title (Scriptural version), as a guide to selecting final images. The associations we made were:

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
    Fear, anticipation, anxiety, prelude
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
    Sorrow/deep sadness; struggle, alone, alienation
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
    Fear, hatred, revenge, power, exclusion, bigotry, control
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter
    Betrayal, denial, weakness, anxiety, sorrow, regret, Peter: self-protection
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate
    Resignation, dignity; legalism, policy
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
    Mockery, humiliation
  7. Jesus takes up his cross
    His journey, not what was done to him; took control, ownership, accountability, met his destiny
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross
    Compassion, community, support, unselfishness, outsider coming in/being pulled in
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
    Love, femininity, compassion, mourning, motherhood
  10. Jesus is crucified
    Eradication, fulfillment of promise, finality, cruelty, torture
  11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief
    Salvation, forgiveness, hope, promise
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
    Love, continuation, projection, new generations, passing torch
  13. Jesus dies on the cross
    Finality, despair, grief, aftermath, finite, hopelessness, darkness
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
    Love, honored, rest, respect, sorrow, cold. (Arts @ All Souls Committee meeting notes, February 2015)

Struggle, Crucifixion and Redemption

The decision was made that we would not fall into the easy solution of using Martin Luther King as the obvious “Jesus” figure/redeemer. We resolved to feature different people within the movement.

In addition to the Klan photo, I fought hard to include a picture of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party (ANP), who was directly involved in the 1965 clash between parties. A close-up image of Rockwell giving an impassioned speech at a 1967 Nazi Rally, symbolized Pilate judging Jesus. Although the picture resonated with the majority as a strong contender for the display….as long as we would somehow agree not to focus on the fact that he was a Nazi leader, since this would “detract from the point,” the “point” being we were talking about Black Civil Rights and not the evils of the Nazi party. What we went with were melding 2 pictures together: Governor Wallace giving a speech, and one of White protesters watching the Selma marchers. 


American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell confronting Martin Luther King Jr., 1965 “George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, confronts Dr. Martin Luther King, 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, in front of the Dallas County, Selma, Alabama. Both Rockwell and King agree to hold a debate later that evening. Rockwell is barred from the evening meeting because King was supposedly assaulted earlier that day by National State’s Rights Party activist James Robinson. Within three years of this confrontation, both of them would be assassinated.” (RHP, Rare Historical Photos. Posted, April 28, 2014).

In actual fact, Rockwell’s contact with Martin Luther King, Jr., Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X were a matter of record. This picture of King and Rockwell is an example. Rockwell didn’t stop there. Though he detested Blacks and Jews, he found himself impressed by the sway that Elijah Muhammad held and felt that their mutual visions of the need for separatism could be useful in furthering his agenda.

Black Muslim cooperation with Rockwell and the Ku Klux Klan went beyond ideology and rhetoric. There were practical implications. Like his white racist counterparts, Elijah Muhammad believed that interracial sexual relations were morally depraved and genetically destructive, for interracial sex “ruins and destroys a people.” Rhetoric aside, he wanted to establish a truce between racists and his Southern mosques. To this end he sent Malcolm X to Atlanta to accompany Jeremiah X, the local Muslim minister of Atlanta, to a secret meeting with members of the Klan. Both sides discussed race relations. (Schmaltz, William H., 1961).

Evidently, as the violence escalated and the relations began eroding between some sectors of the Black community, Malcolm X issued a formal statement. A surviving telegram sent by Malcolm X to Rockwell in 1965 states,

This is to warn you that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist Black Muslim movement, and that if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings, that you and your Ku Klux Klan friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence, and who believe in asserting our right of self-defense — by any means necessary. (Malcolm X. 1965).

There was early dispute over the inclusion of White people in the Stations display, since some Committee members wondered if this would draw away from the tribute to the Black struggle and that it could, moreover, be viewed as disrespectful. Our African American subcommittee members testified to the fact that, although begun by Black people, the struggle quickly gained ground to become an interracial and interfaith uprising in support of the African American struggle for civil rights and liberties. The support of White people as well as fellow Blacks from around the country, risking beating and death in many cases, made it possible for African Americans to move forward to the degree that they did.

The violent shooting on March 25, 1965 of activist Viola Liuzzo, a white housewife and mother of 5 from Michigan, so shocked the world:

It moved President Johnson to order a federal investigation of the Klan and to petition Congress to expand the Federal Conspiracy Act of 1870 to make murder of civil rights activists a federal crime. Her death increased congressional support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which Johnson signed on August 6, 1965. But the false accusations about Liuzzo devastated her family. Until they obtained her FBI file through the Freedom of Information Act in 1977, they didn’t know that the ugly slander about their mother had originated from the offices of the United States Justice Department. (Stanton, 2007) (FBI The Vault, 1965).

Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America from 1959-1996

During this process, I attended a lecture given by Martin Berger, Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture at UCSC, hosted by UC Berkeley, on forgotten photographs of the Civil Rights era. (Berger, M.A. lecture, 2015. UC Berkeley). His study showed how the media, in their effort to draw solidarity for the Civil Rights struggle, cropped many of the photographs to heighten the portrayal of the African Americans as victims. They were not victims, he argued, showing us the original photographs, now part of the National Archives, which corroborated his point. He displayed a newspaper photograph taken on September 15, 1963 of a Birmingham youth, across from the 16th St. Baptist Church, kneeling in prayer for the children murdered in the infamous bombing of the Church. The picture circulated by the UPI (now in the Library of Congress), is entitled “A Negro Youth Kneels on a Glass-Littered Sidewalk” and was cropped to illustrate only the kneeling youth. One saw only sorrow and devastation, leading the viewer to experience a vanquished community. The original shot, however, showed neighbors standing in around with mixed expressions of anger, solidarity and fearlessness. (Berger M.A., 2013). From what Dr. Berger cited from polls conducted at the time, Black people immediately and unquestionably perceived a relationship between the Nazi party and the racism in this country. He added that it was very shortly following World War II and the Holocaust was freshly on their mind. In contrast, White people polled at the time also failed to see the relationship, as did our Committee.

After selecting the images, we included quotations from different representatives of the movement, which we partnered with each image (see 2015 Stations Addendum).

This project proved to be transformative for all of us, as well as for the viewers and people who were sent copies of the brochure showing the exhibit. While our country has been inundated with visual images and video footage of what was done to the Jews and other populations by the Nazis, what happened during the Civil Rights era, and the heroism by Black and White activists resulting in loss of life and dignity, was glossed over, at best. We must also never forget the courage of the interfaith community, in particular, that of the Catholic, Episcopal and the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, in supporting this struggle. (Moore, A.S. 2007). (Episcopal Archives 2008).

I close, including images of the martyred Jonathan Myrick Daniels, and Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America from 1959-1996. Although they could not be included in the Stations of the Cross display, they are critical to the Civil Rights Movement, as were so many others.

JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, photo: Judith Upham (1965). March 20, 1939 – August 20, 1965. "I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord's death and resurrection...with them, the black men and white men, with all life, in him whose name is above all names that the races and nations shout...we are indelibly and unspeakably one." (Daniels, J.M., 1965).

JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, photo: Judith Upham (1965). March 20, 1939 – August 20, 1965. “I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection…with them, the black men and white men, with all life, in him whose name is above all names that the races and nations shout…we are indelibly and unspeakably one.” (Daniels, J.M., 1965).


Memorial at Brown Chapel for the Rev. James Reeb, Brown Chapel, 1965. (LIFE Magazine, March 26, 1965.) (Varlamos, M. 2015.)

Although we tend to think of 1965 as being so far in the past, it was a mere 50 years ago and many of the people from those days, on both sides of the struggle, still live, as do their immediate descendants. Though we have come a long way, there is yet work to be done.


Hallie Frazer

Hallie Frazer, BFA is Director of Theatre of the Sacred Soul at All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, California.  As such, she is a core member of the Arts @ All Souls Committee, a collaborative leadership team who strive to deepen the community relationship to worship and strengthen its connection to the sacred through liturgically rooted expressions in the performing and visual arts, including music both instrumental and vocal, dramatic presentations and theatre productions, and seasonally inspired site-specific artworks and decoration. Her training and work in performance and directing have taken her to New York, London and San Francisco. In addition to a range of classical experience, Hallie has performed nationally in bilingual (Spanish/English) productions through San Francisco’s “Teatro de la Esperanza” and her directing credits include an invitation in 1991 to work with Native American tribal actors in Oklahoma. As Program Director of the former “New Traditions Theater Company” in Berkeley, Hallie worked extensively in the development of new plays, promoting actors of diverse populations. She served on the Theatre Bay Area coalition in the 1990s, examining the artistic offerings and needs of peoples of color which culminated in the Theatre Bay Area People of Color Auditions.

Ms. Frazer has a BFA from Hofstra University (1978), New York and certificates of completion from The Drama Studio/UK in London (1988) and The Drama Studio London/USA in Berkeley, California (1976).



Puleston, B, Jackson, L. Producer: Stoney, George C. (2003). DER Documentary. Race or Reason, the Bellport Dilemma. Preview. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

Puet, T. (2009). Stations of the Cross date back to the fourth century. Catholic News Agency. Retrieved September 4, 2015. Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Wilson, Ralph F., Dr. (copyright 1985-2015, Ralph F. Wilson). The traditional 14 stations of the cross. Stations of the Cross for Protestants and Catholics. (Loomis). Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries, Jesus Walks ® Publications, Loomis, CA. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (2015). Scriptural Stations of the Cross. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 17, 2015.

All Souls Episcopal Parish, Arts @ All Souls Committee, Stations of the Cross, Remembering Selma. Station 10, Jesus Is Crucified. page 5

Griffin, H. (2015). Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Pacific School of Religion,

Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, California. (personal correspondence, February 5, 2015).

All Souls Episcopal Parish, Arts @ All Souls Committee, Working Notes/Attachment to February Meeting Minutes.

No Time For Silence, George Lincoln Rockwell, The Commander. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

Rare Historical Photos and the story behind them. Retrieved September 5, 2015.

Schmaltz, William H. (1961) When George Lincoln Rockwell, Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X Shared the Same Stage. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

Malcolm X. (1965). Malcolm Telegram to George Lincoln Rockwell (Leader of the American Nazi Party). Malcolm X. 1965. Retrieved on: February 2, 2015

Stanton, M. (1962) New York, New York. Encyclopedia of Alabama. Viola Gregg Liuzzo. parag. 9. Retrieved September 5, 2015.

The Vault (1965). FBI. Washington, DC. Viola Gregg Liuzzo. Retrieved January 6, 2015. Liuzzo

Martin Berger Lecture, UC Berkeley. Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle. March 31, 2015.

Berger, Martin A. (2013). p. 48. Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle. The Photographs: Doctored. Joe Chapman, UPI Telephoto. © The Regents of the University of California, UC Press, Berkeley, CA.

Moore, A.S. (2007). Encyclopedia of Alabama. Catholicism and the Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved September 5, 2015.

Daniels, J.M. (1965). Episcopal Archives (2008). The Church Awakens: African-Americans and the Struggle for Justice. Retrieved September 6, 2015.

Daniels, J.M. (1965). But My Heart Is Black. The Texas Observer (October 29, 1965). The Archives of the Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas. Retrieved September 2015.

Orthodox History, The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (1965), Life Magazine Image, (March 26, 2015). Varlamos, M. January 2015. Greek Orthodox Diocese of America. (c) 2015 Greek Orthodox Diocese of America.

The Pathfinder Newsletter: Reflections on the Stations of the Cross, Remembering Selma. All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley, CA. March 26, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015. (An interview between Arts Chair Michele Barger with Hallie Frazer and Marsha Thomas-Thompson)

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