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  • Writer Login


    The second death of Martin King

    by | 9 | Jan 9, 2010

    Tales of Old Atlanta – The photo journalism of Boyd Lewis 1969-79.

    How “the most dangerous man in America” was transformed into a feel-good platitude rolled out every January 15 to assure us racism is a thing of the past.

     

    This free webzine is meant for your entertainment and information only. All photographs copyright Boyd Lewis/Atlanta History Center. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, these images may not be reproduced in whole or in part with permission in writing from copyright owner. For information, contact Boyd Lewis. Or snail mail me at Boyd Lewis, 2858 Marengo Ave., Altadena, Calif. 91001.

    Tales of Old Atlanta is also available at: www.talesofoldatlanta.com.

    ###
    Boyd Lewis

    Boyd Lewis

    New Orleans family. War baby. Family moved a lot. Secondary and college education in Memphis, TN. Just before 1967 graduation, commissioning and tour of leafy, lovely Vietnam, banged up in auto accident. Decided to go into journalism. Tennessee mountain weekly, small Mississippi daily and nearly three decades in Atlanta. Black and alternative newspapers, freelance photojournalist, public radio news and documentary producer, news writer for CNN. Married Deborah James, followed her to Los Angeles for job. Quit the dismal trade and became middle school English teacher in LA barrio school. Quite happy.

     

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    • McPickle

      It would be great if this could be published in the Atlanta Journal. I wonder if the King family has a clue as to how they are viewed by people who worshiped their father. They have left his legacy behind in order to reap the profits from the Center.

    • Thank you Boyd! I wept with you as I read your writing and was particularly appalled to read about the 2006 LA parade. It’s great having your writings in Like the Dew.

    • Your observations are true about the confidentiality of Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Jr.’s legacy. Maybe through your tough love MLK III will be urged to renew the non-violent voice he learned from his father at a very young age.

    • Cliff Green

      Boyd, a couple of years ago, the greed of the surviving members of the King family and their collective abandonment of what should have been their nearest neighbors, was was exposed in a tv interview with a black man who lives in what is now the King Historic District. I’m going to paraphrase, but his statement was something like, “The King family has never done a thing for this area, but the park service has done everything we’ve ever asked them to.”
      The U.S. Park Service is more sensitive to the needs of its neighbors than the Kings? God help the family. Starting with Coretta, not one teaching of the father was grasped.

    • Terri Evans

      Wonderful words and images and especially poignant and relevant as we approach another MLK holiday. At least Obama’s call for a national service day last year has helped to give the tribute more meaning and has gotten traction again this year: http://www.mlkday.gov/

      BTW, my favorite image was the B&W shot of the school girls at his tomb.

    • Boyd Lewis

      I am brokenhearted to think how much better, more just, secure and prosperous our nation would be today if the heirs of the legacy of Martin King had chosen an activist role rather than sitting at the till and collecting dollars to license the poor man’s “intellectual property.” Newspapers can’t even reprint “I Have a Dream” without ponying up cash to IPM (the estate’s copyright “muscle”). Henry Louis Gates, producer of the magnificent documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” was forced to take his masterwork off PBS for years rather than pay an extortionary licensing fee each time it aired (Gates died before a deal was worked out with IPM. Yet Time Warner inked a $20 million deal to use Dr. King’s image in commercials to sell us stuff. One commercial had a clip of Dr. King speaking at the March on Washington in August 1963. The crowd is then PhotoShopped out of the picture as Dr. King continued speaking to an empty arena. The message from the cell phone company was: it doesn’t matter what you say if you can’t reach people, so buy our cell phones so you can reach more people. Honest to God. I saw the commercial and began screaming at the TV. The four children and their heroic mother challenging us to follow the better angels of our nature over the past 42 years would have changed the world for the better. Why didn’t they? Instead, they build the fence of copyright around Dr. King, his words and images, and, all lawyered up, claimed the legacy as their cash cow. And so I now act in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and propose a simple act of civil disobedience to free the King legacy from the shackles of commerce. It is this: Every newspaper and magazine in the nation reprint “I have a Dream” as a public service. Pay ’em nothing. Every TV and cable station: grab every bit of King footage and air it as a memorial to a great American who inspired us to moral splendor. Hey, program directors, give a shout-out to our Martin with as many hours as you did that worthless “balloon boy” hoax. Dare the gimlet-eyed bean-counters over at IPM to sue ‘ya. Fill the jails the way the children of Birmingham did in 1963. Somebody, please, release the legacy of Dr. King from this merchantile bondage. Selah.

      • Westsidefinley

        henry louis gates is not dead. he teaches at harvard…

    • So now the revolution will be televised…if enough corporate sponsors will sign on. I have always believed Dr. King was tolerated by the powers that be until he turned to economics and the Vietnam War. Then he was dealt with before blacks and whites unified against the military industrial complex now buying our legislatures. That unified economics part of his message is hidden under the cult of personality that has raised the man above the people he led.
      Very well said Boyd!

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