Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That's the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system."--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a young girl growing up in Pittsburgh, I remember listening to the famous I Have A Dream speech on the radio every year on the holiday and being awed and often moved to tears. The vibrato of Dr. King's voice moved me and yet made me feel mournful; I was incredibly sad that someone of his magnitude was gone and angry that someone would attempt to snuff out his light.
I say attempt because Dr. King's light continues to shine.
When I was in middle school and was living in Michigan, the area that I lived in did not commemorate the Dr. King holiday and we had to come to school without any real acknowledgement of his legacy. When I asked one of my teachers why this was, his response was because probably there wasn't that many Black students in the school system.
Luckily, my mom wasn't having it. She let me have the day off but on the condition that I did something to mark the holiday; I wouldn't be sitting around watching cartoons. Instead, I participated in a local march in Southfield and attended a program celebrating his legacy. Later on in the day I visited Detroit's African American History museum and bought my first African beaded bracelet, one of my most treasured possessions. That day was a reminder to me about what his legacy should be about; activism and cultural pride.
For a while, his image seemed in danger of being sanitized; his face was seen in food and beverage ads, he was too often made,into the poster-boy of passivity as the response to Black outrage in the face of racism and oppression, he was cast as the balm to Malcolm X's fiery activism. But now, I feel like we are taking Martin back and celebrating him for what he truly stood for. He was a revolutionary who not only challenged the evils of racism, but of poverty, income inequality and even capitalism. He was fiercely pro-Black and saw the virtues of socialism. (I highly recommend reading Harry Belafonte's memoir, My Song, which wonderfully details Mr. Belafonte's close friendship with Dr. King as well the fallout from his assassination). I truly believe he become truly feared when he planned to mobilize the poor before he was fatally shot. How astounding is it that he accomplished several lifetimes worth of achievements by the time he was taken from us at the tender age of 39.
When making this Inkscape portrait, I used the color blue because that is always the color I associate with Dr. King (it is the often the color I associate with people I feel warmly about). I also continued the theme I used with each portrait where every subject had a light source emanating from some point within as a symbol of their superpower.
While this is the last image in my current Black Superheroes series, there will be more editions to come, each of them celebrating and interpreting the richness of Black culture.