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African American Voices: Martin Luther King Jr.: The Gallery

Hello! And welcome to the online exhibition African American Voices: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Below is a series of photographs from the collections of Artstor that depict Dr. King, each with a caption with more information. 

Take a look through the gallery of images below, and check out resources to learn more about Dr. King and his work.

MLK speaking to the crowds during the March on Washington

Washington, D. C. May 17, 1957. March on Washington. Martin Luther King speaking to the crowds.

Bob Henriques. 1957. USA.Washington, D. C. May 17. March on Washington. Martin Luther KING speaking to the crowds.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311515709.

 

Martin Luther King addresses the crowds at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom (an early March on Washington) on May 17, 1957. He is giving his famous "Give Us the Ballot" speech in this photo, but this location is also where he would give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech 6 years later.

MLK sitting at his desk, surrounded by papers, his hand on his forehead in exhaustion

Pastor's study of Ebenezer Baptist Church. President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Martin Luther King. 1961.

Henri Cartier-Bresson. 1961. USA. 1961. USA. Georgia. Atlanta. Pastor's study of Ebenezer Baptist Church. President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Martin Luther King. 1961.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311547330.

 

In 1957, MLK was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). It was formed as a religious group similar to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), specifically for the intention of using the strong black church communities in the South to foster nonviolent protest movements for civil rights. 

MLK sitting at a press conference table with John Lewis and three other unidentified African American Men

Martin Luther King Jr. at a press conference declaring the Freedom Rides will continue. John Lewis (right) was beaten by KKK earlier in Montgomery.

Bruce Davidson. 1961. USA. Alabama, Montgomery. Martin Luther KING Jr. at a press conference declaring the Freedom Rides will continue. John LEWIS (right) was beaten by KKK earlier in Montgomery.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311515623.

 

Freedom Riders were activists who rode on segregated buses in the South in protest of segregation and racism. Often these nonviolent demonstrations turned into violent clashes between racist white Southerners (frequently the KKK), and the protestors were thrown off the buses and beaten. Martin Luther King Jr is not known as a Freedom Rider himself, but was an outspoken supporter of their protests.

MLK surrounded by reporters and microphones, looking exhausted as chaos erupts around him

Birmingham, Alabama. 1962. Reverend Martin Luther King at a press conference.

Bruce Davidson. 1962. USA. Black community. USA. Birmingham, Alabama. 1962. Reverend Martin Luther KING at a press conference.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311537345.

 

MLK was a controversial figure during his own lifetime. Having been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement since 1955 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he became the face of the Southern struggle for equal rights. Scenes like this were not uncommon for his press conferences - high emotions, crowded rooms, general chaos. 

Photo of MLK and Reverend Ralph Abernathy speaking to a large crowed in a crowded Philadelphia street

Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy in Philadelphia

Franklin, Jack. 1963. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy in Philadelphia. https://library.artstor.org/asset/ARTSTOR_103_41822001243649.

 

MLK and Reverend Ralph Abernathy were both part of the group of founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, and worked as the Treasurer and Vice President At-Large of that group until King's assassination in 1969, when he became President. Abernathy and King worked closely together throughout their careers in the Civil Rights Movement.

Baltimore, Maryland. 1963. Martin Luther King.

Leonard Freed. 1964. USA. Baltimore, Maryland. 1963. Martin Luther KING.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311519887.

 

In addition to an activist, King is known today as a great orator. After he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he went on a speaking tour of the nation. Although this photo is titled as being taken in 1963, King's tour of the nation and his visit to Baltimore happened in 1964. Here, King is waving at the crowds that lined the streets.

MLK standing at a pulpit, a set of 7 candles lit in front of him and its shadow cast behind him

Reverand Martin Luther King Jr's tour after he received the Nobel prize for peace

Leonard Freed. 1964. USA. Baltimore, Maryland. 1963. Reverand Martin Luther KING Jr's tour after he received the Nobel prize for peace. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311516949.

 

In addition to an activist, King is known today as a great orator. After he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he went on a speaking tour of the nation. In this photo, he is speaking at a church in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a fitting location for the Dr. Reverend to make a case for equal rights for all.

MLK smiling widely among a group of supporters

1965. Martin Luther King Jr. smiles triumphantly after a Montgomery federal judge granted permission to begin the Selma to Montgomery March.

Bob Adelman. 1965. USA. Selma Alabama 1965. USA. Alabama. Selma. 1965. Martin Luther KING Jr. smiles triumphantly after a Montgomery federal judge granted permission to begin the Selma to Montgomery March.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311519046.

 

The March from Selma to Montgomery was one of MLK's most well-known contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Here he is smiling widely after a federal judge granted him and about 2,000 others permission to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the racism still rampant specifically when it came to voting rights for Black Americans. 

A colorized photo of MLK and his supporters at the front of the March from Selma to Montgomery

Martin Luther King leads the historic Selma March to Montgomery.

Bob Adelman. 1965. USA. Selma, Alabama. 1965. Martin Luther KING leads the historic Selma March to Montgomery.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311521288.

 

From March 21 to 25, 1965, King led a group of more than 2,000 protestors in a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama. Both of these cities were well-known to have fought desegregation, particularly when it came to voting registration. Because of this march, President Lyndon B. Johnson was able to pass the Voting Rights Act through Congress, which is one of the greatest pieces of civil rights legislation to have come from the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK giving a speech to a large crowd in New York City outside the UN

April 15, 1967. Martin Luther KING Jr. addresses the largest peace demonstration in history at the United Nations Plaza.

Bob Adelman. 1967. USA. New York City. April 15, 1967. Martin Luther KING Jr. addresses the largest peace demonstration in history at the United Nations Plaza.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311519130.

 

This photo and the next are both from the same demonstration march in New York at the United Nations Plaza on April 15, 1967. King marched with 125,000 others in protest of the Vietnam War. Near the end of his life, King shifted the focus of his speeches and protests to issues greater than the Civil Rights Movement and voting laws - in addition to taking on the Vietnam War, he also spoke out about the economic inequalities between white and black Americans more broadly.

Another closer view of MLK addressing the crowds outside the UN Plaza

April 15, 1967. Martin Luther KING Jr. addresses the largest peace demonstration in history at the United Nations Plaza.

Bob Adelman. 1967. USA. New York City. April 15, 1967. Martin Luther KING Jr. addresses the largest peace demonstration in history at the United Nations Plaza.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311519133.

 

This is another photo from the 1967 protest march at the United Nations Plaza. King opposed the war for many reasons, connected both to his nonviolent convictions and his views about economic injustice, but hesitated to speak out against it for much of his career for fear that it would interfere with his platforms about civil and voting rights for African Americans. By 1967, however, public opinion against the war was growing and he took that opportunity to speak out at this demonstration.

Portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bob Adelman. 1968. USA. Martin Luther KING's funeral. USA. 1968. Portrait of Martin Luther KING Jr.. https://library.artstor.org/asset/AMAGNUMIG_10311519135.

 

This stark portrait of Martin Luther King Jr was taken in the year leading up to his death.