Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Given all that is happening in the United States right now, his wisdom would certainly be welcomed in 2021. Indeed, if you read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963), there is much that he said 60 years ago that is still relevant today.
This is a very recent mural of Dr. King by Charles Key, who usually signs his work as JamersonSGC and also “Low Key Art.” The truth is, Key has done a lot of murals I haven’t gotten to yet, but I thought this is the day to post this one, even though there are at least five or six others I need to write about.
Like a lot of Key’s work, the King portrait is found along Lafayette street, a neighborhood which is predominantly African-American. Many of Key’s murals feature Black history and culture. On the same building where this mural is found, Key also has portraits of Jimi Hendrix and Erykah Baydu (which I haven’t blogged about yet) and a Black masked nurse who stands as a homage to the Covid-19 first responders.
The King portrait is based on a widely distributed photo, which is sometimes shown in reverse. It is so widely spread it was difficult to locate a photo credit – most people seem to think it’s in general use. I finally found this on an Atlanta-Journal Constitution article: “Martin Luther King Jr. listens to other staff members of SCLC during a meeting at an Atlanta restaurant. (Photo by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images).” Schulke was a widely-respected freelance photographer whose work has appeared in papers and magazines around the world. He met King in 1958 and spent a decade photographing him and the movement. It’s interesting that an image from such an ordinary moment has become so iconic.
Located at 125 Lafayette Street, on the building that houses Southside Market and Deli and Big G’s. The mural faces, perhaps appropriately, Lincoln Street. There is some street parking in the immediate area.
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