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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1956

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1956

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1956

In this photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at Rankin Chapel at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in December 1956. This photograph was taken at the end of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott that thrust King into the national spotlight.

Beginning in the early 20th century and continuing into the 1990s, Addison Scurlock and his sons, Robert and George, used their cameras to document weddings, baptisms, graduations, sporting events, civil protests, high-society affairs and visiting dignitaries. The Scurlocks documented several of King’s visits to Howard University, including this event.

This photo is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not on public display.


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