MLK Photograph Celebrates Life & Legacy at National Portrait Gallery

Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jack Lewis Hiller, gelatin silver print, 1960. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Jack Lewis Hiller © 1960 Jack L. Hiller

Now on view at The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, a celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The photograph (at right) of King was taken in November 1960, shortly after King’s release from
Georgia’s notorious Reidsville Penitentiary, where he was imprisoned after participating in a sit-in
protest in Atlanta.

Jack Lewis Hiller, a freelance photographer, captured the image at the all-black Virginia
Teachers Association meeting in Richmond, Virginia. At that time, teachers’ associations in Virginia were segregated. Hiller, who was white (and a high school history teacher in Fairfax County) had traveled to Richmond to attend the white teachers’ association meeting. Eager to hear King speak, he crossed over to the black teachers’ gathering, where he took this picture during a Q&A session following King’s address.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the influential civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s assassination, the powerful photograph will be on view through April 30 in the museum’s first-floor north gallery.

Add Comment