Thoughts on Dr. King and Photojournalism

Joe and I went to a Warrior’s game on Monday. He had the day off, as it was Martin Luther King Jr Day. In remembrance of Dr. King’s birthday there were several beautiful tributes scattered throughout the ball game. Joe and I chatted a bit about how truly incredible it is that one person had such magnetism, to say the very least, to unify a once staunchly polarized society; most impressively surrounding an issue that many believed to be a foundational, even defining aspect of that 1960’s society.

I got to thinking about how King was not only charismatic in his speeches, his profound writings, but also quite strategic in his use of sociological dramaturgy to aid in creating resonance and eventually activism for the Civil Rights Movement. I believe the images documenting communities protesting en mass, illustrating youth objected to ghastly violence at the hands of those who were supposedly there to protect and serve, or depicting peaceful students being viciously tormented for sitting at a lunch counter; all of these images paved the way for what I believe the essence of photojournalistic documentation should be: a means to bring to light a visual representation, that illustrates an otherwise verbal/written explanation or presumption, in which someone may find resonance, invoking and stirring up latent sentiments, deep significance, and overall sense of connectedness to your fellow man or woman.

Here is a (lengthy) paper I wrote several years ago regarding the concept of dramaturgy in two specific campaigns for social justice; one of Dr. King's and the other of César Chávez. If you’re interested, Take a look.

A picture may be worth a thousand words. But, it also may impress upon in the hearts of many who do not need words, only actions, to describe how it affected them.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Take care,