Montgomery County Jail Cleanup Yields Historic Civil Rights Arrest Photos; King, Parks. - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Montgomery County Jail Cleanup Yields Historic Civil Rights Arrest Photos; King, Parks.

You've heard the old saying 'one person's trash is another person's treasure?'

We have proof of that in a story you'll see only on wsfa.com and WSFA 12 News - the story of a perfectly preserved, one of a kind historic document from the civil rights era. You won't believe where an experienced detective found this document. Suffice it to say - it's worth a thousand words.

It's not the kind of duty you'd expect of a senior deputy. Cleaning up a storeroom to make space for supplies, old uniforms and out of date computers. But a funny thing happened when Derrick Cunningham came across some very old books, filled with photos. 

"Back then it was just somebody who was booked into the jail," Cunningham said.

'Back then' was when a large portion of Montgomery's population refused to ride city buses. We know it now as the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

"You always heard a bout these people getting arrested, but you never knew who they were," Cunningham said, "but we got their names, we got their photos."

Cunningham and another deputy had no idea what they had - and as you'd expect, they forgot about cleaning. And this is why - 48 years later, perfectly preserved, with just one blemish - what may be one of the earliest mug shots ever taken of Martin Luther King Junior. And another page over, Fred Gray and Ralph Abernathy.

And a page over,  Rosa Parks on the second page of the 'colored females' book.

All painstakingly handwritten on each page by Deputy Allen Poindexter, every photo perfectly aligned just like they were in 1956.

"To be able to find them in this condition really meant a lot," explained Cunningham.

Sheriff D.T. Marshall says he's trying to decide exactly who should take custody of the King, Parks and other booking photos. He says he wants to make sure they're preserved as part of Montgomery's civil rights history. Marshall has already spoken to civil rights attorney Fred Gray for advice. The sheriff may also contact national historians for their help.

Reporter: Chris Holmes

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